Created on: 21 Dec 2023 | Last modified: 22 Dec 2023
The EIS is urging lecturer members of its Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA) to ensure that they use their vote in the national industrial action ballot which is currently underway.
The EIS-FELA ballot, which closes on 16th January, is asking lecturers to support a programme of industrial action – up to and including strike action – in pursuit of a fair pay settlement from employers and the protection of lecturing jobs in Scotland’s colleges.
This statutory ballot is taking place against a backdrop of a £58.7 Million cut in college budgets, as detailed in the Scottish Government’s own budget documentation.
This significant cut comes after a year of financial problems within the Further Education sector, which has seen reductions in learning provision and lecturing job cuts in colleges across Scotland.
Commenting, EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said, "We know that this is a busy time of year for everyone, and things often get forgotten about in the flurry of activity around Christmas and the New Year. But I would urge all members of EIS-FELA to dig out their ballot papers – which they will have received in the post in late November – and cast their vote in this hugely important statutory industrial action ballot.
"It’s vitally important that we secure a strong turnout in this ballot, and an overwhelming vote for industrial action, to provide a strong platform in the fight for fair pay and guarantees on jobs."
Ms Bradley continued, "Scotland’s college lecturers should have received a pay rise in September 2022. Today, more than a year later and in the face of the worst cost-of-living crisis in recent memory, our members are still waiting for a fair pay increase.
"The only proposals that have come from employers come with so many strings attached – such as deep job cuts across the lecturer workforce – that they will never be acceptable to our members."
On the cuts to FE funding in the Scottish Budget, Ms Bradley said, "It is frankly unbelievable that after a year of developing crisis in Further Education, the Scottish Government has decided to cut the budget of colleges to the tune of £58.7 million.
"Colleges have a vital role to play in providing quality learning opportunities to communities across Scotland, particularly working-class communities facing significant challenges, but this multi-million-pound reduction in college budgets will only serve to damage their capacity to deliver on this mission.
"The planned reform for the sector will be a non-starter if the Scottish Government continues to cut colleges to the bone."
Ms Bradley added, "Scotland’s FE sector has been blighted by budget cuts and poor industrial relations in recent years. But college lecturers have and will continue to take a stand and work collectively to protect Scottish Further Education. We recently saw lecturers at City of Glasgow College successfully reverse a planned programme of compulsory redundancies through strong collective action and a long-running programme of industrial action.
"This followed a similarly successful campaign at Edinburgh College against job and course cuts. While industrial action is always an option of last resort, and can be difficult for staff and students alike, it is also an option that can deliver positive results in protecting jobs and course provision. I would urge every EIS-FELA member who has not yet cast their vote in this important ballot to do so without delay – it is vital that every member has their say."
Audio Clip: EIS General Secretary, Andrea Bradley