Click the questions to jump to answers.
Q19. What about students?
Q1. When will the first strike day be?
A. Thursday 17 March. Further strike days have been notified - http://www.eis.org.uk/FELA/FE_Payballot_2015_2016.htm
Q2. Will all the colleges in Scotland be on strike on that day?
A. All of the colleges that have signed the NRPA – NESCol, Dundee & Angus, Fife, Forth Valley, Edinburgh, Borders, Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway, West College Scotland, West Lothian, Inverness, Perth, Lews Castle, New College Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, and Moray Colleges will be called out on strike on that day.
In addition, following separate local ballots, Glasgow Kelvin, City of Glasgow and Glasgow Clyde Colleges will also be called out on strike on the same day in pursuit of their aim to join the national bargaining process by signing the NRPA.
Some colleges have not signed the NRPA – North Highland College, West Highland College, Argyll College, SMO, Newbattle Abbey, Orkney Is and Shetland Is. These Branches have yet to lodge local disputes and have thus not been balloted yet. These Branches will not be called out on strike.
The colleges on strike represent more than 90% of the EIS FELA members in Scotland.
Q3. Will this strike action lead to students failing their courses?
A. No. When you withdraw your labour during a strike your employer does not normally pay you for that withdrawn labour and its associated missed work, therefore the "missed” work is not made up automatically.
If your employer wants you to
make up missed work for which it has deducted your salary, then it will pay you
extra to do so. This is how examination classes "missing work” may be made up.
Q4. Will we get strike pay?
The EIS cannot pay strike pay to members in a national strike – it is simply unaffordable. However, a strike support fund has been established by the EIS and further details are provided here:
In addition, any EIS member who has been in membership for a year may apply to the EIS HQ Benevolence Fund and further details are provided here:
Q5. Do I have to go on strike?
A. We would urge you to participate in collective, national industrial action – as decided by a statutory ballot of the membership. We would prefer to limit the number of strike-breakers because it weakens the profession.
EIS FELA has fought long and hard to regain national bargaining, and this dispute is our chance to set the direction of future national bargaining. A successful resolution to this strike will ensure that we bargain and negotiate our working conditions – rather than have them imposed on us.
The more effective the strike action, the more quickly the dispute will be resolved in the interests of EIS members and our students.
Q6. Do I need to confirm or tell the college that I will go on strike?
A. No, the EIS has already provided the legal notice of strike action. There is no need for any individual to do anything.
Q7. Has the EIS given my name for strike action to the College?
A. No, the EIS is only required to give the number of members per workplace in the dispute. We have done this.
Q8. The College has asked me if I am going to strike. What should I say?
A. You should not respond in any way. Notice has already been provided.
Q9. I am an EIS member not on strike – can I be called upon to cover striking colleagues’ classes?
A. No EIS member should cover for a striker’s class. No member of any trade union should cover for a striker’s work
Q10. Does the strike interrupt my continuity of service?
A. No. A strike will not create a gap in service and will not affect your legal right to permanency if you are on a fixed term or top up contract.
Q11. What do I do on a strike day?
A. Your branch should be organising picket lines at the entrances for each campus, and reps will have rotas for picket line duty.
We would encourage all members to take part in the picket line, even if you’re not able to do a full two hour stint.
There will also be a rally at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on 17 March at 1pm. Please get in touch with your branch secretary if you want to participate.
Q12. What does a picket line involve?
A. A picket line is a peaceful protest outside your workplace on the day(s) of strike action. This has several purposes – firstly, to encourage EIS-FELA members to support industrial action and to participate in the strike. Secondly, it allows us to communicate the reasons for the strike to non-teaching staff, students and the general public and encourage support from those quarters.
A vibrant and enthusiastic picket line also demonstrates to management that the strike has the support of the staff. Remember that it will be cold (picket lines are always cold) and that you cannot go into the college to use the facilities, so you should consider other alternatives. Be aware of your own safety if you are near a road or car entrance.
Q13. Can I work from home or arrange to meet students off campus?
A. No. If you are participating in strike action, you are withdrawing your labour for the full strike day – this includes responding to emails, phone calls, marking and prep as well as teaching day and evening classes.
Q14. What if I’m sick or otherwise on leave on a strike day?
A. The college may ask you for medical evidence for shorter sickness absences if these coincide with strike days.
If you are on maternity, paternity leave etc then you are not expected to participate in industrial action. If you are shortly planning to take maternity or other leave please contact your branch secretary for advice.
Q15. How long will the strike last?
A. The stronger the action the shorter the strike will be. The industrial action is for one day initially, escalating to two and then three days a week. We will continue to meet with management until a resolution is reached. Your support for the strike strengthens our hand in negotiations!
Q16. Will non-lecturing EIS members be on strike too?
A. No, the national dispute only affects lecturing staff. In short, you should have been balloted for industrial action to participate – unless you are a new member.
Q17. Can new EIS members be on strike too?
A. Yes – if they become members before the start of the strike then they can participate.
Q18. Will support staff be on strike too?
A. No - our dispute only affects teaching staff, and only EIS members have been balloted for industrial action.
Q19. What about students?
A. Going on strike is always a last resort, and we know that any strike action impacts on our students. In the long-term, students benefit from the defence of education and professional standards that the EIS provides. We would encourage branches to meet with student reps to discuss the strike and the reasons for it, and to ask for their support. We will also seek paid, additional contracts to allow staff if they wish, to ‘make up’ time lost through industrial action once the dispute has been concluded.
Q20. What can I do to help organise in my college?
A. All branches should now set up strike committees, and you can help as a strike committee member in organising picket line duty for your campus, handing out leaflets and keeping members in your staffroom or section informed of developments. Please contact your branch secretary about this.
A. In exceptional circumstances a member may be exempted from strike action. If you seek an exemption then please contact Rhona Carr (firstname.lastname@example.org) explaining the exceptional circumstances.
Q22. I am pregnant- do I qualify for an exemption/how does strike affect my pay?
A. Occupational Maternity Pay is paid according to a pregnant worker’s average weekly wage in the 8 weeks preceding 15 weeks before the EWC. It is unclear whether employers will calculate maternity pay on notional or actual salary but to avoid doubt, exemption will be provided to those who have an EWC between 30 June and 25 August 2016.
To qualify for SMP and OMP a lecturer has to have 26 weeks continuous employment 15 weeks before her EWC. As set out above, a day on which an employee is on strike does not count in the period of continuous employment but does not break continuous employment. This means that a small number of lecturers may be affected during the qualifying period. Therefore, exemption is also given to those who have 25, 26 or 27 (to avoid doubt) weeks continuous employment at the end of the week preceding 17 March 2016. (i.e. 25 weeks by 13 March 2016). Those who do not have 25 weeks by then will not qualify.
Q23. Is a strike a breach of contract and could I be dismissed by taking part?
A. Yes a strike is a breach of contract, and in return the employer does not (normally) pay you.
You can’t be dismissed for industrial action if:
You can claim unfair dismissal at an employment tribunal if you’re dismissed for taking industrial action at any time within the 12 weeks after the action began. The EIS has met the 3 conditions set out above.