Up to 55,000 appeals impacted as new strike days announced

Unite the union can confirm that strike action is set to begin on Thursday (8 September) at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) following no breakthrough in talks. 

Unite has been engaged in talks involving SQA management through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) since announcing strike action dates. 

A new offer was tabled by the SQA but Unite has rejected it on the basis that for the lowest pay grades it represents an uplift of between 5.5 to 7.7 per cent, which remains a significant real terms pay cut. For nearly half the workforce it also represents a consolidated pay offer as low as 3.3 per cent. 

The broader measure of inflation (RPI) has now soared to hit a forty-year high at 12.3 per cent.

Unite has also criticised the last minute tabling of the offer before tomorrow’s industrial action as a ‘cynical publicity stunt’. The trade union is drawing attention to the SQA being prevented from tabling a fair pay offer at an earlier date by the Scottish Government due to the various public sector pay disputes.

The three days of strike action at the SQA on 8, 15 and 16 September previously announced by Unite will continue as scheduled. 

The trade union can also confirm a further six days of strike action on 22, 23, 26, 29, 30 September, and 3 October.

An overtime ban and ban on accrual of time off in lieu will also be in effect from 8 September to 30 November.

Sharon Graham, Unite general secretary, said: “Unite’s SQA members are set to take different forms of industrial action due to a pay offer which still represents a substantial real terms pay cut for the lowest paid. It is completely unacceptable and we will stand up for our members’ jobs, pay and conditions at the SQA because they deserve better.”

Unite previously rejected a ‘derisory’ pay offer in July which was worth between 1.7 to 4 per cent depending on the job grading for SQA workers.   

Unite's industrial action will disrupt the standard appeals stage of the process with the trade union now estimating that up to 55,000 appeals could be ‘severely delayed’.

According to the SQA’s figures this is dramatically up from the 22,000 previously estimated. The results are scheduled to be issued to schools, colleges and training providers by the end of October 2022.

The SQA confirmed the results of priority appeals - if a college or university place or a training or employment offer depends on a grade - to UCAS yesterday (6 September). 

Alison MacLean, Unite industrial officer, added: “Industrial action will go ahead at the SQA and it will continue until a fair pay offer is on the table. This will severely disrupt up to 55,000 student appeals. Talks through Acas have barely moved us forward one inch. The reason for this is because the SQA have in effect been prevented from tabling an improved offer by the Scottish Government due to the various public sector pay disputes. 

“The last minute offer is nothing but a cynical publicity stunt designed to blame the workers who have no option but to take industrial action due to the procrastination displayed by both the SQA and Scottish Government.”


Notes to Editor

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Unite Scotland is the country’s biggest and most diverse trade union with around 150,000 members. The union is led in Scotland by Pat Rafferty.