Scotland’s college lecturers have voted overwhelmingly for strike action over a long-running pay dispute, with the first wave of strikes taking place in the run up to exams when staff return from the Easter break.
Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland, the country’s largest union for teachers and lecturers, voted by 96.4 per cent to 3.6 per cent in favour of action.
The EIS-Further Education Lecturers Association and union leaders claim the Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association, have failed to honour a deal agreed last year.
The row centres round disparities between salaries at different colleges across Scotland with the EIS-Fela saying lecturers at different colleges were being paid different rates for doing the same job.
The union has over 4,500 members at 27 colleges across Scotland.
A spokeswoman for Colleges Scotland described the ballot result “hugely disappointing” and warned that students due to sit exams would suffer.
College staff walked out on strike for a day in March 2016, and had more than 30 days of action planned.
A revised offer from Colleges Scotland was accepted with staff promised wage rises as well as work between colleges and the union to develop a more “harmonised’’ pay deal across the workforce.
Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary, said: “This dispute arose following the reneging by college management of a binding national agreement delivering fair pay that was reached more than a year ago.
“Instead of working to deliver that agreement - that was freely entered into - college managers have spent the last 12 months dragging their collective feet and attempting to undermine the pay harmonisation that they themselves agreed to in March last year.”
A spokeswoman for the Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association said: “It is hugely disappointing that the EIS are planning to take strike action that will badly affect college students in the run up to their exams.
“We have already agreed an average pay rise of 9 per cent over the next two years, but the EIS wants to strike to also get an increase in holidays to 66 days and a reduction in class contact time to 21 hours.
“The employers are offering 56 days holiday and up to 26 hours class contact time, which we believe is a good package that would be warmly welcomed in other sectors.
“Our door remains open and we are happy to continue discussions with the EIS, but they have to accept that we both signed up to a total package in March 2016, including changes to terms and conditions, not a pay-only deal.”