Scottish college lecturers go on strike in pay dispute

College lecturers are going on strike over pay, with EIS leader Larry Flanagan blaming “intransigent management” Credit: David Cheskin/PA

College lecturers across Scotland are going on strike over pay.

Lecturers will join picket lines at campuses on Wednesday morning despite bosses claiming they have been offered a pay rise of more than 12% over three years.

Scottish lecturers are the highest paid in the UK, according to Colleges Scotland, while the rejected pay offer would have raised average salaries from £36,125 in April 2016 to £40,522 in April 2019.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) Further Education Lecturers’ Association (FELA) has accused “intransigent management” of “using conflated figures in publicity to obfuscate the pay claim” and is demanding a pay rise above the increasing cost of living.

The union’s members voted by 90% to 10% in favour of the strike action in December on a turnout of 52%.

Picket lines will be in place at colleges across Scotland from Wednesday morning and a national demonstration has been organised outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh from 12.30pm.

Urging Colleges Scotland to “return to meaningful negotiations, in the hope of agreeing a resolution to this dispute”, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Lecturers have been forced into this strike action by an intransigent management group that has refused to even attempt to reach a negotiated solution ahead of today’s strike.

“Scotland’s college lecturers have not received a cost of living pay increase since 2016 and are asking for only the same type of cost of living increase that has been awarded to many other groups of public sector workers.

“Our revised claim, submitted in December, is wholly consistent with Scottish Government public sector pay policy.

“Yet Colleges Scotland has not yet responded to this revised claim and is continuing to use the delivery of equal pay as a barrier to negotiation, using conflated figures in publicity to obfuscate the pay claim.”

Responding to news of strike action, Shona Struthers, Colleges Scotland’s chief executive, said: “It is extremely disappointing that the EIS-FELA is taking disruptive strike action for the third time in four years, especially when the colleges’ pay offer, combined with salary rises from the ‘same pay’ settlement, would see lecturers’ national average pay increase over three years by 12.2%, which is a cash increase of over £5,083.

“This offer on the table is the best overall pay rise for public-sector workers anywhere in the UK but the EIS-FELA want even more.

“They also want more pay for cost of living but a pay rise is a pay rise, irrespective of whether it comes from – the ‘same pay’ agreement or the additional cost of living offer.

“Finances are extremely tight for colleges and all of the modest £18.3 million revenue increase in the Scottish Government’s 2019-20 draft budget is ring-fenced to pay for the ‘same pay’ rises already agreed so colleges must make cuts elsewhere to pay for an additional cost of living offer.

“This is unaffordable and unsustainable for the sector and the EIS-FELA should suspend its strike action and recognise the instability their unwarranted strike action is causing to college students, who lose out the most from strikes.”