College lecturers across Scotland have today taken part in a third day of strike action as a long-running dispute over pay intensifies. Lecturer members of the Educational Institute of Scotland – Further Education Lecturers’ Association (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.
EIS-FELA President Pam Currie said, “Scotland’s College lecturers have, once again, shown their determination to make a stand in pursuit of a fair pay settlement. Our pay claim is entirely reasonable, and wholly in line with public sector pay policy. Lecturers are asking only for a fair pay settlement that reflects the rising cost of living. Yet the response of management has been to label us ‘greedy’ and ‘unrealistic’, as they have repeatedly rejected all our attempts to reach a fair negotiated agreement.”
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 this has led to today’s action going ahead, with a new ballot now also underway which may lead to an escalation in this dispute.”