College lecturers back strike action over pay

College lecturers have been balloted to strike. Picture: Jane Barlow

College lecturers have been balloted to strike. Picture: Jane Barlow

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College lecturers have voted by 92 per cent in favour of industrial action as their standoff with bosses over a one per cent pay deal continues to escalate.

A formal statutory ballot is now to be held in January for a national strike.

The indicative industrial action ballot, organised by the Educational Institute of Scotland, closed on Thursday.

In total 92 per cent supported action while 8 per cent voted against – 4482 ballot papers were issued and there was a 55 per cent turnout.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “In an environment where millions of pounds of cuts have been imposed, where certain college managers are awarding themselves pay increases of more than 5 per cent, where some principals have manoeuvred massive pay-offs for themselves, and where hundreds of millions of pounds of college funds have been stashed in secretive arms-length foundations, the management side’s 1 per cent pay offer is an insult to hard-working lecturing staff and their support staff colleagues.”

He added: “The next stage is a national bargaining meeting planned for next week, where the EIS will be seeking a significant improvement on the current pay offer from the management side.”

John Kelly, president of the EIS Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA), said: “We are now in national bargaining and a real national offer must be made, so we are calling upon Angela Constance to put pressure on colleges to settle this dispute fairly.”

EIS have pointed to pay disparities that sees some colleges pay nearly £7,000 less to staff doing the same job as those in other colleges. The union is seeking pay rises of between 3.3 per cent and 25 per cent across the best and worst-paying colleges.

Shona Struthers, chief executive, of Colleges Scotland said: “The pay claim used as the carrot for this vote is unprecedented and unrealistic. Unless some realism enters the thinking of the EIS, we genuinely fear that the real losers will be students and teaching staff.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we accept there are inconsistencies in pay across the country that need to be addressed.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The vote for strike action is disappointing, particularly when compared to the wider public sector pay rises which have been accepted.”

“Nonetheless we expect both management and staff representatives to work together to find a solution.”

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