College lecturers plan third week of strikes in pay dispute

Members of the EIS FELA union on the picket line
Members of the EIS FELA union are planning further walkouts [PA Media]

Scottish college lecturers are to strike for a third week after limited progress in pay talks.

The long-running dispute between the EIS FELA union and colleges is over the pay rise lecturers should have got in 2022.

But a lengthy pay dispute by college support staff is over.

Members of Unison have accepted an offer worth £5,000 over three years.

Lecturers represented by EIS FELA at most colleges have taken part in five days of national strike action over the past fortnight and will go on strike for four days next week.

The union has also been offered a rise worth £5,000 over three years.

But it argues this is poorer than the offer made to other public sector workers and fears colleges will need to cut jobs or services to pay for it.

EIS general secretary Andrea Bradley said: “Following only limited progress in talks with college employers today, EIS FELA is not in a position to consider suspension of any part of its industrial action.

"Employers - and the minister for further education - need to show much more willing than they have so far, to bring about a satisfactory resolution.”

“In the meantime, the EIS has made up to £5m available to striking members collectively to mitigate the financial hardship that is being inflicted on them by the refusal of employers to make a decent pay offer and the continuing failure of the Scottish government to intervene meaningfully in the dispute.”

College Employers Scotland (CES) has been approached for comment.

Pay deal agreed

Meanwhile support staff at 21 colleges in Scotland - including librarians, IT specialists, administrators and cleaners - in trade union Unison have voted overwhelmingly to accept a three-year pay deal.

The deal gives a flat-rate increase of £5,000 paid in instalments over three years, with a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until September 2024.

The union says this is the first time there has been such a no-redundancy guarantee in the sector.

It brings to an end almost two years of industrial action by them, including strikes.

Unison Scotland further education branch secretary Chris Greenshields said: “This result would not have been reached without the resolve of Unison’s members working in colleges. It took nearly two years of industrial action and the threat of strikes during exam periods to secure these concessions.

“Importantly, the new offer confirms a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies until September 2024, the first guarantee of its kind in the sector. If the employers had accepted similar proposals made by Unison last year, there would have been no need for industrial action.

"The Scottish government must learn lessons from this.”

Unison Scotland further education branch chairwoman Collette Bradley said: “Colleges should be in absolutely no doubt that if they push through job cuts then there’ll be a swift return to the chaos of industrial action and strikes."