First Minister must not abandon promise of public sector ‘no compulsory redundancy’ in colleges

Created on: 04 Oct 2023

Members of the EIS-Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-FELA) have been on strike at Glasgow Clyde College, Dundee & Angus College and Fife College this week in a long running dispute over job security and pay.

Today marks a third day of strike action in the constituencies of key Scottish Government ministers. These three colleges are linked to the constituencies of the First Minister, Deputy First Minister, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Minister for Further Education respectively.

The current pay offer from College Employers Scotland (CES), rejected some months ago, is forecast to result in potentially 429 job losses across colleges. EIS-FELA negotiators have made clear that no job offer linked to job losses would be acceptable and that an improved offer must come with a guarantee on job security.

The EIS has made repeated calls for the Scottish Government to intervene and facilitate a fully funded pay award that will not result in job losses.

EIS General Secretary, Andrea Bradley, has written to the First Minister requesting an urgent meeting regarding the crisis in the college sector, the apparent abandonment of the Scottish Government’s own public sector no compulsory redundancy policy and a pay offer linked to job losses made by CES.

On Monday, members from Glasgow Clyde College delivered a copy of the letter to Mr Yousaf’s constituency office and attempted on Tuesday to deliver another copy to Bute House. A further attempt to deliver the letter to the First Minister will be made today at the Scottish Parliament.

Commenting on the pay award, EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said, "Compulsory redundancies are already a shameful reality in Scotland’s colleges despite these institutions being part of the public sector. At City of Glasgow College, lecturers have been served notice of redundancy, while Edinburgh College has already taken the step to make a trade union representative compulsorily redundant.

"In both cases, the Principals of these colleges have cited government funding for a pay award not yet being forthcoming as a reason for their decisions, while CES, in their own forecasts, have stated that potentially 429 lecturing jobs could be lost; each job loss a further cut to vital learning provision for students."

Ms Bradley continued, "The EIS has tried to make representation directly to the First Minister twice this week already, seeking an urgent meeting. On Monday he wasn’t in his constituency office which reluctantly took delivery of the letter though gave no assurance of passing it on.

"On Tuesday, staff at the First Minister’s residence – Bute House – refused to accept the letter which stressed the need to meet to find a way forward towards ensuring that the government’s own promise of no compulsory redundancy in the public sector will be kept for college lecturers, just as it has been, rightly, for other public sector workers. If the Scottish Government can renege on its promise for college lecturers, there can be no guarantee of public sector job security elsewhere."

Ms Bradley added, "With this dispute having run for more than a year, the First Minister must either come clean regarding any policy change on public sector redundancy and its implications for the wider public sector, and face the political consequences; or step up immediately to keep this promise.

"EIS-FELA members from Glasgow Clyde College, in the First Minister’s own constituency, will try for a third time to deliver our letter today at the Scottish Parliament. We hope that the First Minister will ensure not only that the EIS letter is received but that a positive reply is soon forthcoming."