Scottish college lecturers to start rolling strikes in pay row, EIS says

College lecturers in Scotland will begin almost three weeks of rolling strikes from next month in a long-standing dispute over pay, union officials have said.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) said on Thursday strikes would begin on April 16 and would continue until May 3.

The rolling strikes will span all of Scotland’s further education colleges, from the Borders to the Shetland Isles and involve several colleges each day for fourteen days.

The first day on April 16 involves lecturers from City of Glasgow, Glasgow Clyde and Glasgow Kelvin college walking out.

An EIS statement said: “This marks a further escalation in the pay dispute, where members of the EIS-Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-Fela) have been taking action short of strike since the middle of February and have already taken a national day of strike action.”

The EIS believes the strikes can “help bring an end to the long-running industrial action and finally deliver a fair pay settlement for lecturers”.

It added: “College lecturers should have received a pay uplift at the beginning of September 2022 but following over a year of protracted negotiations, College Employers Scotland have stated that all they can provide is a ‘full and final’ pay offer of £5,000 over three years, this amidst the worst cost-of-living crisis in generations.

“For many EIS-Fela members, the amount of money tabled in the second and third years of this offer sit below the levels of cost-of-living pay awards set by current public sector pay policy.

“The EIS-Fela does not accept that their members should be treated any differently to any other public sector worker and are simply seeking a pay offer which is reflective of their public sector status and their professional role in education.”

Gavin Donoghue, director of College Employers Scotland, said: “It is deeply regrettable that the EIS-Fela is persisting with strike action which will not result in an improved pay offer, and will only lead to more disruption for students.

“Colleges have proposed a full and final £5,000 consolidated pay rise for all staff over three academic years: £2,000 in 2022/23, £1,500 in 2023/24, and £1,500 in 2024/25.

“If accepted, this offer would keep Scotland’s college lecturers as the UK’s best paid, with a starting salary of more than £40,000 in 2024/25.

“Given that the sector’s budget is set to be cut by a further £32.7 million, employers simply cannot afford to go beyond it.”

He added: “Public sector pay policy (PSPP) has not yet been set for year three of the pay offer (2024/25).

“However, the proposed £2,000 pay increase for all lecturers in year one (2022/23) is well ahead of the recommended cash increases set out in the 2022/23 PSPP.

“The £1,500 pay increase proposed for lecturers in year two (2023/24) is also in line with the 2023/24 public sector pay strategy.

“We urge the EIS-Fela to cancel plans for more strikes and to take the employers’ pay offer to its members in a formal ballot.”

The Scottish Government said that, while it respects the right of trade unions to take industrial action, it is concerned about “potential impacts” the strikes will have on students.

A spokesperson added: “That is why ministers are encouraging both sides to come to a resolution and bring this action to a close.

“It is of course for the college unions and employers to negotiate pay, terms and conditions, not the Scottish Government.

“The Further Education Minister will continue to engage with both management and unions as they work to reach a settlement that is fair and affordable.”

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