Teaching staff striking across Scottish colleges

0 0
Read Time:3 Minute, 48 Second

Lecturers and non-teaching staff from colleges across Scotland are taking part in national strike action today. The strikes are what one union representative has described as the ‘last resort’ in a long-running dispute with college employers over pay.

Members from the EIS-FELA union have been locked in the dispute since August 2022. Union members took strike action last September, and have been engaged in industrial action short of strike since May 2023.

Speaking with the Clyde Insider, David Belsey, Assistant Secretary with the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), said: “We have been involved in pay negotiations for around 18 months, and we have made no progress.”

Industrial action is due to take place on at least 21 college campuses across Scotland as members of the EIS continue to pursue a ‘fair deal’ with Scottish college leaders. Campuses will be closed, and some lessons are due to be cancelled.

“Our members in FE have not had a pay rise since August 2021. They were supposed to have a pay rise in August 2022, and they were supposed to have a pay rise in August 2023. So no pay rise since August 2021, and clearly since August 2021, there’s been a huge amount of inflation.

“Our pay claim is a fair and decent pay claim that allows our further education members to try and cope with the rising costs of living that have been awful over the last couple of years.

“However, the employers are tabling offers, and their final offer is below an acceptable level, and indeed below the Scottish Government’s own public sector pay policy, and the colleges are of course part of the public sector.

“The only action left in the armory is to take industrial action, so that’s unfortunately what we’ve been forced to do.”

Another of the union’s primary concerns is that pay deals could result in compulsory redundancies for staff. Belsey said that the union is “deeply concerned about job cuts in the FE (further education) sector.”

When asked about the nature of the deal that EIS union is seeking for its staff, Belsey said, “something that’s better than the current one.”

The current deal offered by College Employers Scotland (CES) is a £5000 pay rise over three years. It remains to be seen whether a better deal could be made in the near term.

Earlier on, Graeme Dey, Minister for Further Education, expressed sympathy for striking college staff and college students: “I remain concerned by the impact this period of industrial action will have on our students. That is why I am encouraging both sides to come to a resolution.”

However, he also told MSPs that pay negotiations should be made directly between the unions and college bosses, saying “this Government is not in a position to put further funds into that process.”

Before the strikes, Gavin Donoghue, Director of CES, said that he regretted that students’ education would be affected, but said that the deal that’s been offered is the best CES could afford:

“Today’s strike and other industrial action, like the resulting boycott, will not lead to an improved pay offer to trade unions. Colleges simply cannot offer to give what they do not have, especially when government funding is set to fall by nearly 5% in 2024/25.

“The employers’ full and final pay offer has already been overwhelmingly accepted by Unite and GMB members. We urge EIS-FELA and UNISON to cancel their industrial action and follow the example of their fellow trade unions by putting the pay offer to their members in a ballot.”

The strikes are expected to affect thousands of students across Scotland.

Val, a graphic design student at Glasgow Clyde College, spoke to the Clyde Insider: “It’s awful that teachers aren’t getting the pay rise. They obviously deserve to be rewarded, they’re the ones teaching the next generation.

“The situation is unfair. I feel like it affects the motivation of the lecturers to do well.”

He agreed that the strikes should go ahead, adding: “Anything that gets the attention and shows the government is an essential part of society.”

However, he also expressed scepticism that sustained striking could make a lasting difference:

“It feels like striking doesn’t have as much of an effect as it could have. It’s only damaging the education of students.

“In my opinion, it’s a sign of way things are going. There’s no transparency. We have no idea where our money is going.”

Happy
Happy
0 %
Sad
Sad
0 %
Excited
Excited
0 %
Sleepy
Sleepy
100 %
Angry
Angry
0 %
Surprise
Surprise
0 %
Previous post Starmer calls for ‘ceasefire that lasts’ at Scottish Labour conference.
Next post North Ayrshire football project aims to help fans relive those magical memories

Average Rating

5 Star
0%
4 Star
0%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *