College lecturers will continue their national programme of strike action today (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) in an ongoing dispute over the replacement of lecturers with poorer-paid, lower qualified staff.
The first day of strike action, held last week, attracted strong support from lecturers across the country. The strike action started following the refusal of college employers, and their representative body Colleges Scotland, to ratify an agreement – largely based on their own proposals – that would have ended the dispute.
Commenting, EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “Our members are continuing to stand firm against the practice of replacing lecturers with less qualified, lower paid staff. Colleges claim that there is no plan to do this, yet they continue to refuse to ratify an agreement that would halt this practice. If colleges are not seeking to replace lecturers with lower qualified staff, why are they so reluctant to ratify the agreement – incorporating their own proposals – that would stop it from happening?”
The agreement that would have ended the dispute was struck several weeks ago, through the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC), and incorporated proposals that came from Colleges Scotland itself. Following the Agreement, the EIS agreed to suspend the planned EIS-FELA strike action to allow both sides to formally ratify the NJNC Agreement through their own structures. EIS-FELA duly ratified the Agreement, only to then find that Colleges Scotland was now refusing to do likewise. This forced the EIS to reinstate the programme of strike action.
Mr Flanagan added, “Lecturers do not take strike action lightly but are continuing to stand in defence of lecturing jobs and high standards of teaching across the Scottish Further Education sector. An agreement is in place to end the dispute, and it has been formally ratified by EIS-FELA. All that it will take to end this strike is for Colleges Scotland to formally sign up to the existing agreement incorporating their own proposals. Colleges owe it to staff and students to end this dispute by ratifying the NJNC agreement. Lecturers want to return to work and continue to deliver a high-quality learning experience for students – it is up to the colleges and Colleges Scotland to ensure that this happens.”
Note: EIS is the Educational Institute of Scotland, Scotland’s largest teaching union. EIS-FELA is the EIS Further Education Lecturers’ Association, a self-governing association within the EIS.