The employers are fully committed to honouring in full the ‘Terms of Agreement’ reached in March 2016. This includes the top of the salary scale of £40k for lecturers, and harmonising salaries in incremental steps. The whole Agreement will be subject to an equality impact assessment.
Colleges Scotland broke the NRPA by issuing secret guidance to colleges implementing the March NJNC Agreement (‘Terms of Agreement’), as opposed to issuing joint NJNC guidance as they were committed to doing so.
Colleges Scotland’s initial guidance to Colleges was contradictory, and so it issued additional guidance. The effect of this second guidance was not to pay £100 to members for 2015-16. The EIS entered into a dispute with this and has now issued Employment Tribunal proceedings.
The employers have always been clear with the EIS that it considers the "Terms of Agreement” to be a total package, with changes to pay and conditions of service being inextricably linked.
The employers acknowledged that pay and terms & conditions (T&Cs) were separate during the negotiations that produced the NJNC Agreement, and this is why the Agreement has separate and different implementation dates for pay and T&Cs.
Furthermore, the employers and EIS agreed the ‘Roadmap’ to deliver the March NJNC Agreement in June 2016, which again keeps Pay and T&Cs in separate workstreams.
The Agreement, does not state that pay harmonisation will only be paid if national T&Cs are agreed first. The Employers have adopted this position after the Agreement because they knew we would never agree to it.
If necessary, the incremental step on salary harmonisation will be backdated if reaching final consensus on how to implement the full ‘Terms of Agreement’ is delayed. In other words, your money is guaranteed provided that the EIS does not breach the ‘Terms of Agreement’. The employers have written to the EIS setting out that strike action is putting that guarantee at risk.
How can the EIS breach a pay deal? The EIS has worked tirelessly to deliver the Agreement, and it is Colleges that are threatening not to implement the agreed pay harmonisation. It is Colleges that have refused to pay the £100 for 2015-16.
The EIS honoured its part of the deal in March 2016 by stopping 2016 strike action in exchange for this Agreement and a £40k salary for unpromoted lecturers.
The Employers are seeking to effectively blackmail the EIS here, by saying if members strike then the £40k salary may be lost – despite it already being agreed.
It is not the case that the deal has not been honoured (see the Agreement in Table 1); the EIS has been consistently selective in the ‘pay’ sections of the Agreement that they consider most important. The employers consider the terms and conditions element of the Agreement to be equally important.
The EIS has shown that the Employers have consistently breached the deal – not delivering on the £100 for 2015-16 and not delivering on the pay harmonisation payment for April 2017.
The EIS has not been concentrating on pay, and has driven the discussions on delivering fair and equitable T&Cs for all lecturers. The EIS submitted a full set of T&Cs in June 2016, and Employers responded with a poor copy in October 2016.
There has already been compromise on pay, and your pay is already guaranteed, subject to the EIS not breaching the Agreement. The harmonisation of salaries equates to an average pay increase for all lecturers of 9% over the next two years. The EIS is disputing this level of increase. However, Table 2, which has been shared with the EIS, summarises the range of pay increases. Payment cannot be made until such times as there is agreement on terms and conditions – further compromise will be required.
Another attempt at seemingly blackmailing the EIS here, by saying if members strike then the agreed £40k salary may be lost – despite it already being agreed.
There is another reference to the EIS breaching the Agreement – but the EIS has worked tirelessly in seeking to deliver this Agreement. Full sets of NJNC approved minutes dealing with the March 2016 Agreement here.
Table 2 has not been shared with the EIS prior to Colleges Scotland’s missive.
The EIS does not recognise the 9% figure and nor can it tell from Table 2 whether it includes annual salary increments that were to be paid to lecturers anyway without the March NJNC Agreement.
There is nothing stopping the Employers implementing April 2017’s pay harmonisation payments for unpromoted and promoted staff. The Agreement sets out the timetable, and it starts in April 2017.
The truth is that the Employers added that implementing the Pay harmonisation needs a deal on T&Cs after the March 2016 NJNC Agreement and after the agreeing the NJNC Roadmap in June 2016 (the Roadmap has pay and T&C’s in separate workstreams).
Employers will respect the outcome of any EIS ballot on industrial action. The EIS has stated that it "cannot pay strike pay to members in a national strike”. Unlike previous industrial action taken in March 2016, employers will make deductions from salaries for all days of strike action.
The Employers are seeking to scare members here.
The EIS strike pay policy is the same this year as it was last year, and whilst there will be no strike pay, there is an EIS ‘Hardship Fund’ available for members that are disproportionally hit by the strike action, such as part-time workers.
The Employers have consistently shown to the EIS and to the Support Unions separately that they only make meaningful advances in negotiations with threat or actuality of industrial action.
You are being asked to strike when there is a proposed average pay increase of 9% over the next two years. This is in addition to ‘cost of living’ increases which have already been applied. The pay gap exists in the college sector as a result of over 20 years of local negotiation to which the EIS has been an integral part. Despite EIS rhetoric, this is a complex process which the employers continue to engage in good faith, on the understanding that there must also be changes to terms and conditions of service alongside significant pay increases.
The EIS has not been engaged in "rhetoric” i.e. lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.
This is a list of meetings and agreed minutes that the EIS have attended – if you read these then you will see that the EIS has been working hard and consistently to deliver all parts of the March NJNC Agreement. The Employers are seeking to mis-lead members into thinking that the EIS has focussed on pay.
The truth is that we have driven the discussions on national conditions of service because we believe that T&Cs are equally important to us as the pay harmonisation – to some members they are more important.
Unlike the Employers, the EIS supports all its statements with evidence.
Please see the National Conditions document that the EIS submitted in June 2016.
The EIS proposals would cost the sector in excess of £30m and includes demands for 66 days annual leave and 21 hours class contact per week, with no real focus on professional standards. What the employers are offering is 56 days annual leave and 26 hours contact time, along with the pay increase. A disproportionate focus on pay provides no discernible benefit to the college sector, students, taxpayers, or the status of lecturers.
The £30m is the accumulative cost over 3 years of delivering the agreed £40k salary for unpromoted lecturers – i.e. the March 2016 NJNC Agreement, not "EIS proposals”.
The EIS has offered contact hours and annual leave and other proposals to improve the quality of teaching – including 3 more teaching weeks a year. The EIS has been focussed on delivering fair T&Cs, manageable for lecturers and to be implemented across the whole sector in order to deliver high quality teaching and learning.
The Employers have been concentrating on squeezing as many hours out of lecturers as possible, by reducing annual leave to below 50 days for promoted lecturers.
The EIS was the Side that suggested that lecturers should be GTCS registered and have six days of CPD training a year as set out in the Staff Governance Standard.
As public bodies, colleges have a duty to ensure value for the public purse and cannot support average 9% pay increases (with a further pay claim for 2017/18 for £1,000) without demonstrating a benefit to the people we serve. National Bargaining cannot be seen as simply a one-way street.
As the Employers acknowledge in point 5 above, the EIS has already compromised on pay. The pay harmonisation element has already been agreed in the March Agreement. If they did not want to pay it, then they should not have agreed to it.
The Employers are now trying to turn the March Agreement into a self-funding agreement, where lecturers effectively pay for their pay increase by working longer hours. This is not what the strike action last year achieved.
The focus should be on delivering a Workforce for the Future, as per the ‘Terms of Agreement’ – one workforce that delivers a fair and equitable package for all staff and improves the quality of teaching and the learning experience for students.
The Employers have got themselves into this pickle by agreeing to the March NJNC Agreement with agreed pay harmonisation implementation dates and then did not honour the deal.
Instead, they decided to use the Agreement as a means of effectively blackmailing the EIS into agreeing inferior T&Cs for lecturers across the whole college sector.