Scottish further education staff strike over pay

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Further education lecturers in Scotland are striking over pay today (17 March).

The industrial action follows a ballot among members of the trade union Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) and Further Education Lecturers’ Association (Fela). Of the 61% of members who turned out for the ballot, 88% voted in favour of strike action.

The industrial action is expected to continue until the summer or until a resolution to the pay dispute is found. Members of the union will strike for two days a week, which will later increase to three days a week.

A meeting between Colleges Scotland and the EIS is scheduled for tomorrow (18 March).

John Kelly, president of EIS-Fela, said: “The Scottish government and college management promised a return to national bargaining in the college sector, and the creation of fair national pay scales for lecturers.

“After a year and a half of negotiations, neither of these commitments has been met and colleges now intend to impose a pay settlement that would widen, rather than narrow, pay inequity across the sector.

“We hope that our support-staff colleagues, students and the wider community will understand our reasons for taking this action as we seek a fair pay settlement and delivery of the promises that were made to lecturers.”

Shona Struthers, chief executive at Colleges Scotland, added: “We are under no illusion that the reintroduction of national bargaining to the college sector is a major challenge, but one we fully support.

“Throughout, we have been totally committed to putting the best deal on the table to reward staff for their hard work and commitment. Crucially, the deal has to be deliverable in a financially sustainable way, both now and in the future.

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“Over the past few weeks real progress has been made, and we could be on the cusp of finding a viable solution. We can deliver a sustainable pay increase now, to everyone. We will then take decisive steps towards tackling variances in pay and conditions across the sector and modernising in the longer term.

“As such, we urge EIS to call off its planned strikes that will affect students at a critical time of year, in the approach to exam season.”