Programme for government highlights need for greater investment in education

Created on: 07 Sep 2023 | Last modified: 09 May 2024

College lecturers have today (Thursday 7th September) begun a programme of sustained strike action, comprising of national, rolling and targeted strikes, in response to a pay offer that will result in significant job losses across Scotland’s further education sector.

College Employers Scotland (CES) have made clear to negotiators from the EIS-Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-FELA) that their current pay offer would result in job losses across the FE sector.

At a meeting of the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC) for colleges earlier this week, CES were unable to table an acceptable offer not predicated on job losses and it was agreed that both sides would undertake to write jointly to the Scottish Government to ask for an urgent meeting to discuss the situation. EIS-FELA have made clear that the Scottish Government must be prepared to work with CES to facilitate a fully funded and fair pay award that does not result in job losses.

Over the course of September and early October, members of the EIS-FELA will take one day of national action, followed by rolling action and then three days of targeted action in the constituencies of the First Minister, the Deputy First Minister, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Minster for Further Education. A National rally will be held at Holyrood today (Thursday).

As strike action began, EIS General Secretary, Andrea Bradley, commented,“A report by Audit Scotland, released today, has laid bare the financial crisis facing the college sector; with an 8.5% real terms reduction in Scottish Government funding between 2021/22 and 2023/24, at a time where costs have increased. This same report has outlined the risks, that the EIS has repeatedly voiced, regarding cuts to provision and the impact on opportunities for people across Scotland to access further education. As lecturing jobs go, course provision is cut and as course provision is cut, opportunities to access education reduce.”

Ms Bradley added, “The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, published earlier this week, largely represents a missed opportunity to offer enhanced support for education. The document continued little that was new, and was based mostly on a recycling of previously announced policy – including yet another delay to the much-lauded expansion of universal free school meals. There is a clear need for increased investment in education in all sectors, to ensure that pupils and students have access to the high-quality educational experience that they deserve. The EIS is currently campaigning to protect jobs and for fair pay in Further Education, and calling on all parties to Stand Up for Quality Education to ensure that all young people can be educated in a suitable learning environment, supported by sufficient numbers of qualified teaching staff. The Scottish Government must commit to doing more to support our education system.”