A UNION has accused the leadership of four Living Wage accredited colleges in Scotland of condemning predominantly women workers to poverty pay.

Unison has chosen International Women's Day to name and shame Kelvin College and Clyde College in Glasgow as well as Borders College and North East Scotland College where workers are paid les than the Living Wage of £9.00 per hour.

The union which is campaigning on the issue found that all National Recognition and Procedures Agreement (NRPA) Colleges are Living Wage accredited and that all directly employed workers in Scotland’s colleges are paid the Living Wage.

But it found that four of the 20 still have outsourced workers who are paid at a rate less than the Living Wage.

Unison said that colleges have failed to follow others by using their own funds to ensure low paid workers - who they say are predominantly women - are paid immediately after being Living Wage accredited.

The union said the City Of Glasgow, New College Lanarkshire and Ayrshire College recently did so.


North East Scotland College and Borders College were accredited Living Wage employers in 2017, Glasgow Kelvin got on board in April, last year and Clyde College were recognised in 2017.

Living Wage accreditation can be granted as long as employers have a plan in place with contractors to ensure workers are paid the Living Wage within an agreed timescale. UNISON understands that at least the Glasgow colleges cannot supply any date.

Mary Dawson, Unison's Glasgow chairman, said: “For two of Glasgow’s colleges to be among the last four colleges in Scotland to ensure that that low paid women in catering and cleaning are paid a Living Wage is an embarrassment to Glasgow and it should be an embarrassment to the Glasgow Colleges Regional Board (GCRB).

"Unison has been asking the GCRB to intervene to make this happen for the last year but they seem powerless despite holding the College purse strings”.

Collette Bradley, vice chairman of Unison's Scottish further education committee added:"For Clyde and Kelvin College still to be holding investigations (as they say) into how they can make this happen doesn’t wash with us nor does it wash with the low paid workers languishing on poverty pay.

"They have known since January 2016 that accreditation was required by December 2016 with actual payment to follow on soon after. They both significantly missed the deadline and someone needs to step in now to ensure the colleges implement this without further delay even if that means using their own cash reserves to top up the wages of these low paid workers while they resolve the contractual situation with the companies."

 A Glasgow Clyde College spokesman said “As confirmed by Poverty Alliance, Glasgow Clyde College is fully compliant and has been a Living Wage accredited employer since 2017.  All of our employees are paid the Living Wage.

" We use external contractors for some cleaning and catering provisions and encourage those suppliers to pay the Living Wage.  Our accreditation supports a phased implementation of the Living Wage by contractors.”

A Glasgow Kelvin College spokesman added: "Glasgow Kelvin College is an accredited Living Wage Employer and pays all of its employees accordingly.

"Through the procurement system for colleges, it contracts with two external organisations to provide some canteen catering and cleaning services. Both of the employers of these contract staff have yet to establish a living wage for all their employees. The College has been in discussions with both in a bid to remedy this situation.

"As a public sector organisation, the college is unable to retain ‘cash reserves’ and in the current climate is looking to make efficiency savings. It will retender for external contracts in the coming months and adherence to a Living Wage policy will form part of the procurement process.

"This approach of ‘phased implementation’ of a living wage for contractor employees is, the college believes, being adopted by around 5,000 other Living Wage Employers across the UK."

Borders College and North East Scotland College were approached for comment.