Scotland Times

Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

SQA exam staff vote for strike action in pay dispute

SQA exam staff vote for strike action in pay dispute

Staff at Scotland's exam body, the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA), have voted for strike action due to an "unacceptable" two-year pay offer. Most SQA staff were offered pay rises below inflation, ranging from 5.75% in 2023 to 3.15% in 2024.

This decision could potentially disrupt the release of exam results. Last year, Unite workers accepted a pay deal, ending their strike action. However, this year's offer has been rejected, and discussions for potential strike dates are underway.

The SQA's ability to provide exam results next year may be affected. Additionally, Unite has raised concerns about education reform and the SQA's removal, which have not been addressed.

The Scottish government plans to replace Scotland's education and exams agencies by the summer of 2024, including the SQA, Education Scotland, and a separate school inspection agency, with three new education bodies.

The SQA maintains that its pay offer is fair and reasonable, representing an average increase of 7.43% in the first year and 5.19% in the second year, accounting for pay progression. The SQA also noted that the majority of its colleagues are not members of Unite, and contingency plans are in place to minimize disruption.

Public sector pay disputes in Scotland have become more common due to high inflation. These disputes often revolve around the allocation of public funds, and employers and politicians must consider the precedent set for the rest of the public sector when negotiating pay increases.

The Scottish government emphasizes that pay negotiations are a matter for employers and unions, although it may provide funding to support improved pay offers or avoid strikes in certain cases.

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