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Date: Tue 5 February 2013

Save our colleges, UNISON FE members tell MSPs

Scotland’s college support staff union UNISON will today (Tuesday 5 February) give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee on the Post-16 Education Bill

Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON’s Further Education Committee, will today (Tuesday 5 February) tell MSPs that college cuts and mergers will have a catastrophic effect on key services to students.

In evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee on the Post-16 Education Bill, Chris will tell MSPs:

“We have already lost more than 1,300 jobs in Scotland Colleges in 18 months alone - before Education Secretary Mike Russell announced that he wanted a further £50 million of savings as a result of mergers.

“We think this that will have a catastrophic effect on the key services our members provide to our students. We cannot continue to cut while the sector deals with the biggest changes in over 20 years.

“We believe this is gambling with our students' future.”

The cuts have also seen vocational courses like aeronautical and aircraft engineering, computer animation, digital gaming, green-keeping, and horticulture disappearing alongside opportunities for part time students.

Chris Greenshields said:
“Thousands of people were unable to find a college place this year. We believe that regionalisation could make a difficult situation worse. We believe college regionalisation is about budget cuts not improvement.”

UNISON’s college staff in Scotland are planning to step up their campaign to save further education.

Regional Organiser Emma Phillips said:
“Members working in FE have been facing a double whammy of deep funding cuts and a series of difficult mergers with minimal consultation.

“Our FE committee has been campaigning along with the National Union of Students and other community activists and trade unions.

“Around 1300 UNISON postcards signed by members and supporters calling for an end to short-term cuts and long-term damage will be delivered as a petition to the Scottish Parliament. That is one for every job lost in FE colleges in the last couple of years.

“We are calling on Education Secretary Mike Russell to guarantee: decent funding for colleges; no compulsory redundancies; no more privatisation in colleges; an end to so-called ‘back office’ cuts - and a Living Wage for all staff whether directly employed or working for contractors.

“We plan to build our campaign with a lobby of MSPs and local campaign initiatives in colleges across Scotland through 2013.”


For further information please contact:
Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON’s Further Education Committee, on 0722 329 223
Emma Phillips, UNISON Regional Organiser, on 07538101221
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer, UNISON Scotland, 0141 342 2877 or 078765 66978

Notes for editors:

1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland and represents a range of staff delivering important services in further and higher education.

2. UNISON Scotland's written evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee on the Post-16 Education Bill can be found on our website here: