Staff at Scotland’s exam body to vote on strike action for first time

Workers at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) are to vote on whether to take strike action for the first time.

Unite members at SQA have been in a dispute with management over the organisation’s restructuring, which follows two failed attempt to bring in changes since 2013.

The union said senior figures have also internally revealed the identities of individuals involved in grievances, which they claim is an attempt to intimidate and de-legitimise their case.

The organisation has two main roles – accreditation and awarding qualifications – and strike action could take place during exam periods, if supported by members.

Alison MacLean, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “Staff morale within SQA generally is at an all-time low.

“The confusion and chaos this restructure is causing has wide and deep impacts across the organisation.

“In our opinion, the workforce is being harassed and intimidated by the actions of senior management, who are attempting to deflect from their own mismanagement.

“Unite has received a resounding mandate to ballot for industrial action.

“We urge the SQA to enter into meaningful consultations and negotiations with the unions at the earliest opportunity.

“However, if they do not, then potential strike action during the examination period will be the full responsibility of senior management at SQA.”

Unite has since written to the Information Commissioner’s Office to report the alleged data breach against its members and those at Unison.

It said the body has been undergoing an internal restructuring process for almost a year, which has left a number of workers without specific job roles.

This has led to the union holding a consultative ballot, which had an 84% turnout.

Of those who took part, 96% issued a vote of no confidence in senior management, while 89% supported potential strike action up to and during the examination period.

Unite will now hold a statutory ballot on industrial action for the first time ever at the SQA.

An SQA spokesman said: “We have been, and continue to work co-operatively and collaboratively with our recognised trade unions, and are currently in formal discussions about the issues raised.

“The 2019 exams diet is on track. We have an established governance framework in place, where progress and risks are managed, supported by robust contingency plans.

“SQA is totally committed to the Fair Work Framework and to providing everyone with the support, development and career progression opportunities they require, to enable SQA to deliver for the people and economy of Scotland.”

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