We would expect teaching staff to undertake their normal contractual duties on non-strike days. This will include teaching timetabled classes, prep, marking, meetings and other contractual duties.
We are all worried about the impact of industrial action on our students, and none of us want to be on strike. However, a strike will only work if we do what it says on the tin – we withdraw our labour on those days. That includes delivering teaching activity through any forum, answering emails, marking etc.
You cannot be required to work over your contractual hours – in the vast majority of colleges this will be your weekly maximum. If in doubt, check this with your local rep.
Classes timetabled for strike days ‘count’ towards this. However, management have the right to timetable you as they see fit – for example, they may cancel one class to run another in its place, provided this is a ‘reasonable’ request, e.g. you have had sufficient notice to prepare the class.
Management may offer voluntary, paid overtime (e.g. catch-up twilight or night-classes on non-strike days) and this is fine provided it is voluntary and paid at the appropriate rate after the dispute has been settled (not suspended, but settled).
You will have a set amount of non-contact time in your working week under your local contract. We would expect all teaching staff to continue to work as normal on non-strike days, including marking. The order and priority of marking should be determined by you using your professional judgement.
We would emphasise that teaching staff should not be working over their contracted hours during the non-strike days or at weekends. This includes marking. This will inevitably impact on the timescale for the return of marking and learners should be made aware of this.
In-class assessments will normally be postponed until the first available scheduled class on a non-strike day. Management may reschedule classes as above but this should not be done as additional work over and above your timetabled maximum.
We cannot guarantee that any learner will pass a course, under any circumstance. Learner attainment depends on a number of factors in which attendance at timetabled classes is one element, albeit an important one.
Clearly industrial action will place learners at a significant disadvantage, and we understand the concerns of EIS members and their students in this regard.
Learners do not have a contract with you as an individual lecturer; they have a contract with the college and ultimately with the Principal. If learners wish to raise complaints about the impact of industrial action, we would suggest that they direct these to the Principal and Chair of the Board, copied to their local MSP.
College managements could have avoided this strike, and they have had numerous opportunities to make proposals which would allow action to be suspended. We are clear that the responsibility for learners who fail to achieve lies firmly with the Employers Association and Colleges Scotland, and we will be asking college managements to provide paid catch up classes when the dispute is resolved.
We have raised our concerns regarding learners with management and the government. We are clear that every day of industrial action further disadvantages learners, and we believe that the government’s failure to act is nothing short of a betrayal of our students.