A body representing Scottish college employers has described strikes taking place today as “deeply disappointing”.

College Employers Scotland said the industrial action will “only cause disruption and anxiety for students”.

The walkouts will be held after Unison Scotland, which represents college support staff, criticised a lack of intervention from the Scottish Government regarding a pay dispute.

The union previously wrote to further education minister Graeme Dey to ask if the Scottish Government would help in resolving the row.

Thursday is Unison’s national day of strike action and will see more than 2,000 college workers walk out.It will be followed by more strikes from September 11 until September 26 across Scotland.

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Gavin Donoghue, director of College Employers Scotland, said: “National strike action by the EIS-Fela, Unison and Unite is deeply disappointing, and will only cause disruption and anxiety for students.

“Colleges have plans to mitigate the impact of these strikes and the vast majority will remain open.

“College Employers Scotland provided a full and final pay offer to the EIS-Fela and the support staff trade unions (Unison, Unite and GMB) in June for a cumulative £3,500 pay rise.

“This offer would provide an average pay rise of 8% for lecturers and 11%, on average, for support staff. For support staff earning less than £25,000, the average increase would be over 14%.”

He added: “For lecturers at the start of the pay scale, the increase would be around 10% to a starting salary of almost £39,000 a year.

“Given the huge financial pressures already facing colleges, we hope the EIS-Fela, Unison and Unite call off their plans for rolling strike action and recommend the employers’ pay offer to their members.

“College Employers Scotland remains open to meeting the trade unions any time to avoid further disruptive strike action in the college sector.”

Staff were balloted in April over colleges’ failure to agree on pay and the national harmonisation of terms and conditions, Unison said.

Unison wrote to Mr Dey in response to a letter in which he ruled out any Scottish Government funding to resolve the dispute, and also failed to rule out compulsory redundancies.

READ MORE: Five Scottish universities to be hit by strike action

John Mooney, Unison Scotland’s head of further education, previously said: “This just shows how completely out of touch the minister is.

“Rather than dealing with the critical issue of sorting out a long-overdue pay deal for our hardworking further education staff, he completely refuses to intervene to protect jobs and avert strike action.

“He also fails to rule out compulsory redundancies across Scotland’s colleges, leaving Scotland’s colleges the only public service that is not covered by the no-compulsory redundancies policy.

“The last thing our members want to do is take strike action, but they have been left with no choice as each pay offer comes with the very real threat of compulsory redundancies.

“If the minister is serious about wanting to avoid disruption to students, then he should start by valuing the people who deliver the vital services Scotland’s students rely upon and work with Unison to ensure workers get the fair pay and conditions they deserve.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson previously said: “While operational decisions on pay and staffing matters are the responsibility of individual colleges, the Scottish Government remains concerned by the impact this current action is having on students.

“We expect employers and trade unions to make every effort to reach a settlement which is both fair and affordable with a view of bringing this industrial action to a close.

“The Scottish Government recognises the crucial role that colleges play, which is why we have allocated £787 million in funding for 2023-24, despite the unprecedented financial challenges facing government.

“The college sector’s resource budget has been increased by over £168 million since 2012-13.”