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College lecturers stage two-day strike over pay dispute

Members of the EIS Further Education Lecturers Association want a bigger cost-of-living pay rise.

Glasgow: Lecturers will picket on Wednesday and Thursday.
Glasgow: Lecturers will picket on Wednesday and Thursday. STV

College lecturers across Scotland are staging a two-day strike amid a long-running pay dispute.

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) Further Education Lecturers' Association (FELA) are picketing on Wednesday and Thursday in the fight for a larger cost-of-living pay rise.

Lecturers have already taken four days of action in relation to the dispute and called off a strike last week to facilitate further talks with management body Colleges Scotland.

As no agreement was reached at a meeting on Monday, members have gone ahead with the strike this week.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "Lecturers across Scotland will walk out on two days of strike action this week, as the long-running dispute over a fair cost of living pay increase continues.

"Despite EIS-FELA calling off last week's strike action to facilitate further negotiations, and agreeing to a short-notice meeting on Monday to engage in talks with Colleges Scotland, there has been no breakthrough towards an agreement."

Colleges Scotland has argued the package on offer would see 90% of unpromoted lecturers earn almost £42,000 a year.

'The EIS-FELA should not be attacking students in this way by striking during exams and withholding students' assessment results'
Heather Stevenson, Colleges Scotland

Heather Stevenson, interim director of employment services for Colleges Scotland Employers' Association, said: "The EIS-FELA is continuing with its strike action and action short of strike action and is demanding that lecturers have an automatic right to a four-day week in college and get paid almost £42,000.

"Colleges have put a generous package on the table which would take over 90% of unpromoted lecturers to £41,426 and provide all lecturers with the right to request flexible working arrangements, but colleges could never grant this an automatic entitlement for up to seven hours a week for all lecturing staff.

"That would be simply unsustainable for the college sector and adversely affect students.

"Colleges are doing everything we can to end this dispute for the sake of students, who are being deliberately targeted by the EIS-FELA.

"The EIS-FELA should not be attacking students in this way by striking during exams and withholding students' assessment results, but colleges are mitigating the impact of their action and we are confident their attempts to cause maximum disruption will not succeed despite them paying their members to go out on strike.

"The number of lecturers out on strike has waned by almost a quarter since the first strike action, and that is because lecturers in Scotland are by far the best paid in the UK, and the pay harmonisation rises from 2017 to 2020, combined with the improved pay offer on the table from colleges, now equate to a national average increase of over £5000 - or more than 13%.

"Lecturers have also had significant improvements in terms and conditions over the same 2017-20 pay period, including an enviable 62 days' holiday per year and a reduction in class contact time to 23 hours per week.

"Some progress has been made in recent dispute discussions and we hope to resolve the outstanding issues on the total package of pay and conditions of service and we will continue to meet with the EIS-FELA until their latest industrial action is resolved for the sake of the students."

The EIS has accused Colleges Scotland of a lack of urgency in trying to resolve the dispute and branded the four-day working week claim as "bizarre".

'The statement from Colleges Scotland only confirms that they understand little about the role of a lecturer, nor about the huge amount of work that lecturers do outwith their class teaching commitment'
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan

Mr Flanagan added: "There has been a distinct lack of meaningful negotiation from Colleges Scotland, and a lack of urgency on their part to resolve this dispute.

"Once again, they have fallen back into the pattern of making increasingly belligerent comments about lecturing staff - including a bizarre claim about the EIS demanding a four-day working week for lecturers, which has absolutely no basis in reality.

"The statement from Colleges Scotland only confirms that they understand little about the role of a lecturer, nor about the huge amount of work that lecturers do outwith their class teaching commitment."

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