EIS Hits Out at Latest College Employers’ Anti-trade Union Bully Tactics

Created on: 09 Feb 2024

The General Secretary of the EIS has hit out today at the threats issued by several college employers towards EIS-FELA members who will be carrying out lawful industrial action from this coming Monday in pursuit of a fair pay settlement.

Despite college lecturers having achieved a legitimate mandate to commence industrial action short of strike (ASOS) in the form of a working to contract and withholding of results from Monday 12th February, several colleges have threatened staff with 100% pay deductions in a blatant attempt to stop workers from taking part in industrial action.

Lecturers are facing intimidatory behaviour from a number of college employers who are seeking to undermine the right to take industrial action by threatening to withhold wages despite the ASOS only affecting a small part of their work. At least two colleges have stated that whilst they will deduct 100% of salary for any worker carrying out the ASOS that “any work they do perform will be performed voluntarily”.

Colleges are public bodies, with Ministers being responsible for them to Parliament. Last year, a college became the first public body in Scotland that the EIS is aware of that deducted salaries from public servants undertaking ASOS.

EIS General Secretary, Andrea Bradley said, "Withholding wages or even threatening to do so when lecturers are carrying out almost all of their work and when they are almost a year and a half overdue a pay rise in the midst of the worst cost of living crisis in living memory, is simply outrageous and demonstrates a callous disregard for lecturers as workers and as human beings.

"This way of seeking to facilitate work for free from members taking industrial action to protect their pay is shocking. These colleges are treating their workers as serfs."

Ms Bradley continued, "It is utterly shameful that public sector employers such as colleges who are in receipt of Scottish Government funds and who claim to abide by Fair Work principles, would seek to threaten EIS-FELA members in this way.

"Aggressive, vindictive anti-trade union tactics like this have no place in a progressive society or in a country that the Scottish Government has declared will be a world leader in Fair Work by next year. The Scottish Government does not seem to be able to convince the public bodies that it funds and is responsible for, to deliver Fair Work for their public servants.

"This assault on trade union members' right to take industrial action short of strike action is more akin to the spirit and intent of the UK Government’s anti-trade union laws than it is to the spirit of democracy, human rights and Fair Work. It has no place anywhere in Scotland, least of all in the public sector," Ms Bradley further added.

Any employer who seeks to punish EIS-FELA members for exercising their legitimate right to carry out industrial action will feel the full force of the EIS and wider trade union movement response.

Rather than seek to take such rogue and retrograde steps, college employers should be channelling every single ounce of energy into reaching a settlement that will bring an end to the industrial action that continues to disrupt the sector but which lecturers have had no choice other than to take in the face of intransigence on the part of employers and the Scottish Government.

The EIS will continue to provide its full support to EIS-FELA members to resist these latest shameful bullying tactics.