College Lecturers To Strike For 32 Days

10 March 2016, 11:34 | Updated: 10 March 2016, 11:36

College lecturers plan to take a total of 32 days' strike action over the coming months as part of a long-running dispute over pay.

The EIS trade union said 87.6% of college members who voted in a ballot backed industrial action.

Lecturers plan to strike on Thursday March 17, with two days of action planned the following week and the week beginning April 18.

Thereafter, the union has confirmed staff will strike three days - Tuesday to Thursday - each week until June 23.

EIS members were told in a letter: ``This escalatory strike pattern is the same as the other EIS FELA (Further Education Lecturers' Association) strikes in recent years such as at Edinburgh College.

"The EIS recognises the hardship that strike action causes and this decision has not been taken lightly.

"Strike action is the last recourse of the EIS-FELA. However, no significant progress has been made since the pay claim was lodged in October 2014.

"The EIS has made clear to the management side (i.e. the colleges) that it will meet at any time to discuss any improved offer that it tables.

"The EIS hopes that the dispute is resolved as soon as possible, and without any strike action.''

College staff have been offered a wage rise of 1% but the union wants action to tackle the wide variation in pay across the sector.

The letter said college bosses had not contacted the union since Friday's ballot result.

A strike support fund is being established to support members whose salaries will be disproportionally affected, such as part-time lecturers who would normally work on the planned strike days.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "Lecturers were promised a return to national bargaining and clear steps to deliver equal pay in all colleges across the country.

"In reality, neither of these promises has been delivered and lecturers feel angry and betrayed.

"These feelings have been reinforced by colleges abandoning the negotiations and imposing a pay uplift while other colleges have refused to take part in negotiations at all.

"These emphatic votes for strike action are the result of broken promises that were made to lecturers.''

Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said staff at all levels were offered a 1% pay rise in line with other public-sector agreements, and this was accepted by three of the four trade unions in Scotland's colleges.

She said following the ballot: ''It is the best possible offer in the current difficult funding situation, because there are simply no additional resources available to finance a deal beyond that which has already been offered - and accepted by the other three unions.

''We are working with all stakeholders to resolve this issue as soon as possible to ensure that students face minimal disruption during the EIS action.``