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21 March 2019, 05:53
College lecturers are taking part in a fourth day of strike action in a long-running dispute over pay.
Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland - Further Education Lecturers' Association (EIS-FELA) are demanding what they describe as a fair cost of living increase, in line with public sector pay policy.
The union has rejected what it says is a 2% increase offer over three years, and accused employers' association Colleges Scotland of seeking to tear-up existing commitments on lecturers' working conditions.
Members are walking out on Thursday for the fourth time this year, after staging three other one-day strikes since January 16.
The move comes after delegates at the EIS-FELA annual general meeting recently passed a no confidence vote in Colleges Scotland.
EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: "EIS-FELA members have stood strong and united throughout this strike while Colleges Scotland has shown it is unwilling to engage in meaningful negotiations.
"It is especially disappointing that Colleges Scotland failed to accept the EIS offer to suspend strike action earlier this month and again this week.
"This decision led to a new ballot which may further escalate this dispute."
He also called for Scottish ministers to step in to facilitate a negotiated agreement.
On Wednesday, college chiefs wrote directly to lecturers urging them to reconsider further strike action.
The Colleges Scotland Employers' Association urged them to consider whether the "endless cycle of strikes" is in their best interests, or in the interests of students or the college sector.
The letter states: "Any additional pay offer from colleges - what the EIS-FELA calls cost-of-living pay - is not coming from a funding allocation or budget, as you may have thought, but rather from cuts colleges must make.
"Our seventh offer already equates to cuts of £10.1 million, which a number of colleges have already informed us will be challenging for them and will lead to job losses and cuts to services. Colleges also have to find three percent annual efficiency savings like other public bodies."
"If agreement is reached on the additional, eighth offer, then deeper cuts will have to be applied."