Strike FAQs - Spring 2024

Created on: 12 Sep 2023 | Last modified: 01 Mar 2024

Q1. When will we go on strike?

Q2. How long will the strike last?

Q3: What is the issue with the current pay offer from College Employers Scotland?

Q4: Will we get strike pay?

Q5: Why are we going on strike?

Q6: What action short of strike am I being asked to take?

Q7: Do I have to go on strike?

Q8: Do I need to tell my College that I am going on strike?

Q9: Has the EIS given my name to my College?

Q10: I am an EIS member not on strike – can I be called upon to cover striking colleagues’ classes?

Q11: Does the strike interrupt my continuity of service?  

Q12: What do I do on a strike day?

Q13: I am pregnant- do I qualify for an exemption/how does strike affect my pay?

Q14: Have we tried to avoid strike action? 

Q15: Can I continue to work from home on a strike day? 

Q16: What if I’m sick or otherwise on leave on a strike day? 

Q17: Can new EIS members be on strike too?

Q18: Can I be exempted from strike action?

Q19: What about students?

 

Q1. When will we go on strike?

Strike action will begin for one day on Thursday 29th February and follow the programme set out below including a combination of national, rolling and targeted action.

These strikes can be avoided, if College Employers Scotland and the Scottish Government seriously focus on ending this dispute and work to provide a fully funded pay award that does not result in job losses.

Stage 2: Targeted Strike Action

March 11th and March 13th: Dundee & Angus College: Deputy First Minister’s and Minister for FE’s constituency.

March 18th and March 20th: Fife College: Cabinet Secretary for Education’s constituency.

March 25th and March 27th: Glasgow Clyde College: First Minister’s constituency.

 

Q2. How long will the strike last?

The current pay offer from College Employers Scotland is over three years, with a £2000 increase in year one and a £1500 increase in years two and three. EIS-FELA negotiators have been made aware that this offer will not be fully funded and may lead to further redundancies.  Aside from the unacceptable potential link to job losses, the £1500 in years two and three sit below the public sector pay policy minimum for the majority of EIS-FELA members. College lecturers are public sector workers and colleges are public sector institutions, you should not be treated differently to the rest of the public sector.

 

Q3. What is the issue with the current pay offer from College Employers Scotland?

The current pay offer from College Employers Scotland is over two years, with a £2000 increase in year one and a £1500 increase in year two. EIS-FELA negotiators have been made aware that this offer will be funded through significant job losses across the public Further Education sector. In information shared by CES with EIS-FELA in May 2023, they projected over 400 potential lecturing job losses alone across the two years. This may have been resolved now.

Aside from the unacceptable link to job losses, the £1500 in year two sits below the public sector pay policy minimum for the majority of EIS-FELA members. College lecturers are public sector workers and colleges are public sector institutions, you should not be treated differently to the rest of the public sector.

EIS-FELA will not trade jobs for pay and any pay offer must be at an acceptable level and fully funded in order to avoid it resulting in any job losses.

 

Q4. Will we get strike pay?

The EIS cannot pay strike pay to members in a national strike – it is simply unaffordable.

However, in a clear message to both College Employers Scotland and the Scottish Government of the unequivocal support of the main body for EIS FELA members’ action, the EIS Executive Committee has authorised 100% net strike pay for those members taking additional targeted action on top of the strike action to be undertaken by all other EIS-FELA members. 

Strike hardship fund information can be found here FELA Strike Hardship Claim Form (eis.org.uk).

NOTE: The Strike Hardship Fund is intended to be used to support colleagues who are disproportionately impacted by the cycle of strike dates - e.g. some part-time members of staff, as a consequence of the pattern of strike days, may lose a significantly higher percentage of their income when compared to a full-time member of staff.

It is not a daily payment for everyone on strike.

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. Why are we going on strike?

It is over a year and a half since college lecturers should have received their pay award for 2022/23. EIS-FELA members have had to manage through a cost-of-living crisis that continues to impact on working people; inflation may have decreased but it remains high and the increased prices remain. Despite this, College Employers Scotland’s current offer is dependent on job losses.

It is unacceptable that college lecturers, following a protracted wait for a pay rise they should already have, should then be told they must sacrifice jobs for a sub inflationary pay offer.

 

Q6. What action short of strike am I being asked to take?

Industrial Action Short of Strike (ASOS), in the form of a resulting boycott and work to rule, began on 12th February 2024 and remains in place. Please find the ASOS FAQ’s here (an EIS membership is required to access).

 

Q7. Do I have to go on strike?

We urge you to participate in collective, national industrial action – as decided by a statutory ballot of the membership. We hope that no member goes to work as a strike-breaker, because it weakens the strike in pursuit of winning this dispute, and weakens the collective nature of trade union membership.

The maximum amount of pressure can be brought on College Employers Scotland and the Scottish Government to facilitate a fully funded and fair pay offer for college lecturers if we stand strong together.

The pattern of national, rolling and targeted action has been agreed in order to balance the most effective strike strategy, with the minimal impact financially on individual members. However, in order to ensure this strategy is effective, maximum participation in the strike is necessary.

The more effective the strike action, the more quickly the dispute will be resolved in the interests of EIS members and our students.

 

Q8. Do I need to tell my College that I am going on strike?

No, the EIS has already provided the legal notice of strike action. There is no need for any individual to communicate anything to their employer of their intention to take strike action. Some colleges may attempt to write directly to employees asking them to identify whether they are going on strike. There is no statutory obligation on the individual to comply with this request.

 

Q9. Has the EIS given my name to my College?

No, the EIS is only required to give the number of members per workplace in the dispute. We have done this.

 

Q10. I am an EIS member not on strike – can I be called upon to cover striking colleagues’ classes?

No EIS member should cover for a striker’s class. No member of any trade union should cover for a striker’s work.

 

Q11. Does the strike interrupt my continuity of service?  

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.

 

Q12. What do I do on a strike day?

Attend your picket line if possible, and then the EIS FELA rally in front of Parliament on 29th February, 2024 (11.30am).

 

Q13. I am pregnant- do I qualify for an exemption/how does strike affect my pay?

Occupational Maternity Pay is paid according to a pregnant worker’s average weekly wage in the 8 weeks preceding 15 weeks before the EWC (expected week of confinement). It is unclear whether employers will calculate maternity pay on notional or actual salary but to avoid doubt, exemption will be provided to those pregnant members who have an EWC from 1st August 2024 or later. If you have any concerns or queries regarding your situation please contact your branch secretary in the first instance.

 

Q14. Have we tried to avoid strike action?

Yes, we have done everything in our power to avoid strike. The EIS-FELA pay claim for £5000, flat rated, was submitted in June 2022. At the time that the claim was submitted, knew that inflation was predicted to rise exponentially in the developing cost of living crisis. CES took several months and a number of NJNC meetings to respond with an offer; this only came after EIS-FELA enacted the NJNC dispute procedure regarding the lack of offer.

Following the declaration of a dispute earlier this year, during which a consultative ballot took place evidencing EIS-FELA members’ willingness to take strike action, management representatives attended two formal dispute resolution meetings without bringing any further improvement of their offer.

EIS-FELA met with Graeme Dey, the Minister with responsibility for further education to the Scottish Parliament, shortly after he was appointed. He encouraged EIS-FELA to move position, and stated that he would encourage the employers to do this also. With inflation running at over 11%, EIS-FELA revised our claim in May to £7000 over two years and tabled this in May 2023. EIS-FELA indicated that we could be flexible on how this figure could be split over two years, and that resolution could be found through negotiation if the management were willing to move.

The EIS wrote to the Scottish Government asking for an emergency funding package to be implemented for colleges, and also wrote to all college principals asking them to join us in this call. No formal replies were received from any Principals and a negative reply from the Scottish Government was received.

Action Short of Strike, in the form of a resulting boycott and work to rule, began on 2nd May 2023, on the same day the same day that the Scottish Government announced the withdrawal of an additional £26million that had been allocated to the college sector.

CES has produced its ‘full and final’ offer as £2000 year one (2022-23) , £1500 in year two and £1500 year three. The  £1500, in years two and three, falls below public sector pay policy minimum for the majority of the FELA membership.  

The Scottish Government, via communication from the Minister for Further Education, has to this point tacitly accepted compulsory redundancies taking place  in colleges, despite these institutions being part of the public sector and therefore in breach of its own public sector no compulsory redundancy policy.

In this context, the EIS-FELA has attempted to avert strike action but has ultimately been left with no choice. The current pay offer from College Employers Scotland is dependent on job losses, with some college principals already acting on this. The Scottish Government must be convinced to reverse this situation and can do so by ensuring that College Employers Scotland can facilitate a fully funded pay award that will not result in job losses.

 

Q15. Can I continue to work from home on a strike day?

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.

 

Q16. What if I’m sick or otherwise on leave on a strike day?

The college may ask you for medical evidence for shorter sickness absences if these coincide with strike days.

If you are on maternity, parental or family leave 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. Similarly, if the leave is unplanned, your Branch Secretary can provide advice in relation to your circumstances.  

 

Q17. Can new EIS members be on strike too?

Yes – if they become members before the start of a strike day then they can participate.

 

Q18. Can I be exempted from strike action?

In exceptional circumstances a member may be exempted from strike action. If you seek an exemption, then please contact Anita Stewart (astewart@eis.or.uk) explaining the exceptional circumstances. 

 

Q19. What about students?

Regrettably, strike action will impact upon students. The threat of job losses, linked to the current pay offer from College Employers Scotland, will mean less learning opportunities for students through cuts to courses.

We welcome and value the solidarity of the National Union of Students nationally for the EIS-FELA membership in its industrial action.