College Lecturers Across Scotland Take Strike Action - Rally at Holyrood Today

Created on: 28 Feb 2024

College lecturers across Scotland have walked out on strike action, as a long-running dispute over pay and jobs continues.

Members of the EIS-FELA have been engaged in a programme of action short of strike (ASOS), including a work to rule and a resulting boycott, in recent weeks and today are staging a day of national strike action as the dispute intensifies.

Following a morning on the picket line at their college campuses, lecturers from across Scotland will gather at a rally outside the Scottish Parliament at 11.30am ahead of First Minister’s Questions and Portfolio Questions to Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth.

Colleges seem to have collectively coordinated a draconian response to the ASOS industrial action by lecturers and some have taken steps to deduct 100% pay for this limited industrial action – to seek to prevent workers from exercising their legal right to withdraw their labour or part of their labour.

The UK Government ‘Minimum Service Levels’ legislation is also meant to restrict workers’ right to take strike action and the Scottish Government has objected to it for doing so.

Colleges are part of the public sector under the stewardship of Scottish Government Ministers and they are meant to implement the ‘Fair Work Framework’ which is meant to offers all workers an effective voice, opportunity, security, fulfilment and respect.

Scotland’s Further Education lecturers last received a pay uplift in August 2021, and should have received a pay-rise in August 2022, but are still waiting for an acceptable offer from college employers a year and a half later.

The only offers to have come from employers are below inflation, and below the Scottish Government public sector pay policy despite the college sector being part of the public sector.

There continues to be a fight to maintain staffing numbers within the FE sector, with redundancies being planned in both Shetland UHI and Moray UHI Colleges. EIS-FELA is currently fighting against these cuts, as it fought against cuts in City of Glasgow College and Edinburgh College late last year.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said, “It should be a matter of deep shame to both college employers and the Scottish Government that the country’s hard-working and dedicated college lecturers are still waiting for a fair pay offer, a year and half after they should have had their pay increase settled.”

Ms Bradley continued, "It should be a further source of shame that, rather than seeking to resolve the dispute, some college principals have instead poured fuel on the flames by threatening to withhold pay from lecturers engaged in a work-to-rule and resulting boycott as part of a legitimate programme of industrial action.

"This reprehensible threat – which runs counter to the Scottish Government’s stated opposition to Westminster anti-trade union laws – violates every policy of sound industrial relations and Fair Work principles and seems designed to make the dispute worse, to the detriment of lecturers, students and college communities."

Ms Bradley added, "By taking national strike action today, and by turning out at Holyrood later this morning, Scotland’s Further Education lecturers are making clear that they will not be cowed into submission by the bullying tactics of Scotland’s college Principals.

"The programme of industrial action, including a rolling schedule of further days of strike action, will continue until EIS-FELA members receive a fair pay offer that properly reflects the invaluable work that they do."


Information for Journalists:

Speakers scheduled for the rally at Holyrood from 11.30am include: Pam Duncan-Glancy, MSP; Ellie Gomersall, President NUS Scotland; Wille Rennie, MSP;  Linda Somerville, Deputy General Secretary, STUC; Sher Khalid-Ali, student activist, from student action; Allan Crosbie, EIS Vice President.