A local MSP has written to the leader of the Glasgow college planning to close an ‘invaluable’ trade union education centre, the Herald can reveal.

Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP, who is also Scottish Labour’s education spokesperson, has asked City of Glasgow College Principal Paul Little to set out the rationale for the controversial decision, which was announced during a period of ongoing industrial dispute between college management and trade unions.

(Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

A Scottish Parliament motion submitted by Ms Duncan-Glancy, which seeks to save the centre, has also attracted cross-party support.

For a number of years, the Trade Union Congress Education Centre (TUC EC) has been housed at City of Glasgow College and operated through a partnership between the college and the TUC. However, the college is now seeking cut costs by closing the centre, which provides training for union representatives nationwide through a variety of training courses.

Scotland's college sector is currently facing a budget gap of nearly half-a-billion pounds over three years, and has been rocked by long-term industrial action by staff.

In her letter to the college, Ms Duncan-Glancy raises concerns that the decision to close the centre will put jobs at risk and have a serious negative impact on “ the availability of Trade Union learning opportunities in Glasgow and indeed across Scotland.”

She goes on to make three specific requests of Mr Little, asking that he set out the rationale for the proposal, provide details of the decision-making process that has been followed, and confirm what engagement has taken place with the Scottish Funding Council about the planned closure.

The letter has also been copied to the Glasgow Colleges Regional Board, which oversees planning, performance and funding for colleges in the city.


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Ms Duncan-Glancy has also submitted a parliamentary motion entitled: Saving the Trade Union Education Centre at City of Glasgow College. In it, she highlights concerns that an institution originally established in 1992, and that has served thousands of students, is now at risk. The motion describes trade union education as a “vital” feature of “supporting workers’ representation and rights”, and “calls for the threat of closure to be lifted.”

At the time of writing, the motion has achieved cross-party support from Scottish Labour, Scottish Greens and Scottish National Party MSPs.

This follows calls from leading trade unionists for First Minister John Swinney to intervene and save the centre. In a joint statement, leaders from thirteen unions called on Mr Swinney to honour an commitment that “a partnership with trade unions and business will be at the core of his approach.”

Pam Duncan-Glancy MSP told The Herald that the proposal to close to close the TUC EC is “not just an attack on jobs and students, it’s an attack on the Trade Union Movement.”

She added: “The Centre empowers the trade union voices of today’s and tomorrow, closing it risks seriously diminishing the voice of workers across Scotland.

“I have written to the College Principal to ask him to set out the rationale for the closure, and to reconsider.

“I also asked him to share with me what engagement he has had with the SFC, because the SFC requires to be consulted in cases of voluntary severance.

“The course is invaluable, and so are the jobs of the dedicated teaching staff within it.

“It’s vital that a solution is reached asap and that the Centre stays open.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "The Scottish Government values trade unions in providing a strong and effective voice for Scotland’s workers, and believes a progressive approach to industrial relations is at the heart of a fairer, more successful society.

“It remains that operational decisions on pay, resourcing and course delivery in the Further Education sector are for individual colleges. Scottish Ministers have no locus to intervene.

“However, we would hope that all parties could come together to resolve this matter for the benefit of workers across Scotland.”

A City of Glasgow College spokesperson said: “Currently, the Trade Union Congress Education Centre (TUC EC) is operating at a vastly reduced capacity because of the continued downturn in demand for trade union education.  Many trade unions are now seeking alternative in-house training for their lay union representatives, rather than sourcing  this training from the College. In recent years, the TUC EC has been costing the College between £150,000 to £100,000 each year to run, which is financially unviable during these very challenging financial times for the sector.  

“The proposal to not renew the contract with the TUC is subject to consultation, so no final decision has bene taken to close the TUC EC when the current Partnership Agreement with the TUC lapses at the end of this academic year. 

“All colleges in Scotland are continuing to face significant multi-year financial and funding challenges and are having to find big savings and generate additional income. As Scotland's largest college, we are projecting a deficit for academic year 2024/25 of almost £2 million, and we are therefore exploring every option to balance the books as we are required to do."