College lecturers across Scotland will walk out for a third day of strike action today as the long-running dispute over pay intensifies.
Lecturer members of the EIS-FELA are campaigning for a fair cost of living increase, in line with current public sector pay policy. However, the employers' association, Colleges Scotland, has offered only 2% (consolidated) over a 3-year period, while also seeking to tear-up existing (and recently agreed) commitments on lecturers' working conditions.
In an escalation of the dispute, EIS-FELA has also opened a statutory ballot on industrial action short of strike. Should members vote in favour of the action, the escalating action will include a boycott of college results systems and a withdrawal of goodwill.
This action, if approved by members in the ballot, will run concurrently with the ongoing programme of strike action.
Earlier this week, at a meeting of the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC), the EIS put a new proposal to management and offered to suspend strike action. The EIS-FELA proposal, which didn't involve any additional money from colleges, was flatly rejected by Colleges Scotland.
Commenting, EIS-FELA President Pam Currie said, "While EIS-FELA went into talks earlier this week in good faith in the hope of breaking the deadlock over lecturers' pay, management instead chose to issue a shopping list of demands around terms and conditions."
"This type of behaviour is simply unacceptable, and demonstrates that Colleges Scotland have little interest in settling this dispute and display scant regard for the impact of their actions on lecturers and students alike."
EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: "It is disappointing that Colleges Scotland failed to accept the EIS offer to suspend strike action earlier this week. EIS-FELA put a straightforward proposition to them which didn’t include additional money but which would have allowed negotiations to continue."
"Colleges Scotland rejected this and therefore the programme of industrial action will continue with today’s strike, with a strong possibility of escalating action to follow."