Workers at Scotland's national qualifications’ body have overwhelmingly backed strikes - but will not proceed with action immediately.

A ballot by the Unite union found more than 90 per cent supporting strikes this summer at the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA).

The vote could lead to widespread disruption throughout the forthcoming exam diet with refusal by staff to process candidates' marks.

However, Unite has also signed a framework agreement with the SQA after talks at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

READ MORE: Pupils face summer of chaos as SQA workers ballot

Under the agreement, the SQA has committed to a series of measures to address the restructuring issues that led to the strike ballot.

In return, Unite has agreed not to proceed with industrial action until the end of May to allow for progress.

Alison MacLean, Unite regional industrial officer, said: “The overwhelming mandate for industrial action at the SQA is a testament to the strength and courage of Unite’s membership.

"It’s also a damning indictment of the prevailing management culture and turmoil at the SQA.

"The agreement unequivocally obliges the SQA to make significant progress on addressing our collective grievances ... but the SQA remain on notice and, if they don’t fulfil their end of the bargain, then Unite will immediately trigger our mandate for industrial action."

An SQA spokesman said the body had agreed a positive way forward with the Unite union.

He said: "We are fully committed to achieving our common goal, where all staff feel valued and supported in their work environment, as we work together to deliver for the learners of Scotland.

"We look forward to working closely in partnership with our trade unions.”

If strike action goes ahead it could mean pupils not receiving their exam certificates for qualifications such as Higher, National 5 and Advanced Higher - which could impact on their ability to take up university and college places or employment.

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The row comes after a restructuring within the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) which Unite says has been botched, leaving experienced staff without meaningful roles.

While the restructuring of the IT department will involve an overall increase in staff the union is concerned that existing members have been overlooked for the new roles and are not being given the opportunity to retrain.

Staff elsewhere in the SQA are concerned about the changes because there are plans to restructure other departments.

A separate grievance centres on what unions describe as a "severe and serious breach of confidentiality" by SQA managers.

This comes after the identities of individuals involved in a grievance about the wider restructuring process were revealed internally against the SQA's own policies.

Ninety per cent of Unite members backed strike action on an 80.5 per cent turnout. Some 95 per cent voted for industrial action short of a strike.