Friday, 15 January 2016

The EIS has warned that the Scottish Government's much lauded return to National Bargaining in the Further Education Sector will fail unless the Cabinet Secretary for Education takes direct action to compel all of Scotland's FE colleges to sign up.

The EIS has contacted the Cabinet Secretary to raise its concerns and to warn that the current national bargaining process is in danger of becoming a sham.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "It is increasingly clear to the EIS that the Scottish Government's manifesto aim of delivering national terms and conditions for the college sector by voluntary means is in danger of failing.

"The current national bargaining process is starting to come apart as it seems entirely voluntary for individual colleges to participate or not.

"Put simply, the current national bargaining process will not deliver a national set of terms and conditions unless the Scottish Government takes action to compel colleges to comply with the spirit of a true national bargaining process."

Mr Flanagan continued, "The college representative body, Colleges Scotland, has absolutely failed to bind all colleges to the voluntary National Bargaining Development Group (NBDG) Agreement and this has led to an unfortunate situation where four colleges, and possibly as many as ten, do not consider themselves bound by the outcomes of the agreed national bargaining process.

The EIS has already formally raised this issue with the Scottish Funding Council for Further and Higher Education, but it is clear that direct intervention from the Scottish Government is now required to ensure that all colleges meet their obligations to negotiate on nationally agreed terms and conditions through the established national bargaining process."

Mr Flanagan added, "Scotland's college lecturers are growing increasingly disillusioned by the progress, or lack of progress, towards the national pay and conditions that were promised by the return of national bargaining.

"In a recent indicative ballot, EIS members in the FE sector voted by 92% to 8% in favour of industrial action over the unacceptable pay offer that has been tabled by college management for the current year. It is a cause of serious concern that some colleges clearly do not even consider themselves bound by this offer, even should a settlement eventually be reached.

"Lecturers are angry at what they see as a betrayal, and the Scottish Government must now act or a statutory ballot process and the launch of ongoing programmes of industrial action by FE lecturers will be the inevitable result."