Scottish Government must no Longer Ignore the Crisis in Colleges

Created on: 19 Sep 2023

College lecturers have this week started a second week of rolling strike action in a long running campaign for fair pay and job security.

On Monday, members of the EIS-Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-FELA) walked out at West College Scotland and Newbattle Abbey College, with members taking strike action at Ayrshire College and UHI Argyll today. Further strike action will be taken in other colleges over the next week.

The current pay offer from College Employers Scotland is forecasted to cost potentially over 400 lecturing jobs and falls below public sector pay policy for most college lecturers in its second year.

The EIS is publicly calling on the Scottish Government to intervene through a fully funded and fair pay award that negates job losses across the sector.

In a concerning deviation from existing Scottish Government policy regarding the public sector, compulsory redundancy processes have been enacted at both Edinburgh College and City of Glasgow College, with local EIS-FELA branches engaged in sustained action against these moves. In both cases, the management at the college has cited the impact of a pay award not yet made as a key reason for redundancies.

A delegation from the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC) for colleges, from both EIS-FELA and College Employers Scotland, will meet with Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Veterans, Graeme Dey, tomorrow to discuss the stalemate in negotiations.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley, said, "The Scottish Government can no longer ignore the crisis in Scotland's colleges; it is real, and it is raging right now. The situations at City of Glasgow and Edinburgh colleges show the devastating impact of institutional mismanagement and reductions in government funding, which would spread throughout the college sector if a pay award dependent on job losses was accepted.

"Put simply, EIS-FELA will not trade jobs for pay and the Scottish Government must act now to resolve this dispute and protect Further Education in Scotland - an essential public service, particularly for our working class communities.

"Only a fully funded and fair pay rise, that does not result in job losses, will stop a further escalation to strike action in the constituencies of key Scottish Government Ministers.

"The joint meeting taking place on Wednesday between representatives from EIS-FELA and College Employers Scotland, with the Minister for Further Education, is encouraging. The EIS trusts that the Minister will not arrive at that meeting with the same tired platitudes and unwillingness to intervene directly in this dispute that we have seen thus far.

"The time for action from the Scottish Government must be now."