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Lecturers take to picket lines as pay dispute rumbles on

EIS members at Scotland's colleges claim their pay is falling behind other public sector workers.

Strike: A third day of action is scheduled in March (file pic).
Strike: A third day of action is scheduled in March (file pic). STV

College lecturers across Scotland have taken to the picket lines for a second day amid a pay dispute.

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland Further Education Lecturers' Association (EIS-FELA) have been campaigning for a "fair cost of living" pay increase, which they say has not happened since April 2016.

Lecturers voted in favour of taking industrial action in December, with 90% of those who took part backing the move.

EIS-FELA president Pam Currie said: "Our EIS-FELA negotiating team have been extremely flexible in attempting to find a solution to this dispute that could be acceptable to both sides.

"Unfortunately, Colleges Scotland have shown little flexibility and their latest offer - which amounts to 2% consolidated over three years for most of our members - is worse than their original offer and significantly lower than public-sector pay policy across the three years.

"EIS-FELA hopes that, in our next meeting on Thursday, Colleges Scotland will come with a willingness to engage in meaningful discussions towards a negotiated and fair agreement."

The first day of strikes took place on January 16, while the second came on Tuesday. A third is scheduled for March 6 if a deal is not reached.

The Scottish Government said it has "invested heavily" in colleges and funding additional costs of "harmonisation" of pay, terms and conditions.

This was said to have helped the institutions deliver an average 9% pay increase to lecturers over three years.

Further education minister Richard Lochhead said: "The current dispute is about a cost of living pay uplift over and above the additional costs of the harmonisation of pay, terms and conditions.

"The Scottish Government has invested heavily in Scotland's colleges and is funding in full the additional costs of this harmonisation, which is helping colleges deliver an average 9% pay increase to lecturers over three years.

"It is profoundly disappointing the strike is going ahead and it is not surprising that students are angry especially since there have been encouraging signs of progress in recent talks.

"We will be speaking again soon when I will again urge both parties to resolve this dispute in this spirit of collaboration and co-operation as its continuation is in no-one's interests, least of all our students."

John Gribben, Director of Employment Services at Colleges Scotland Employers' Association, said: "The EIS-FELA is aware that colleges are already having to make cuts to finance the additional pay offer which they have rejected.

"Their unreasonable pay demands would mean fewer courses, fewer students, and fewer lecturing jobs in the college sector."

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