A number of lecturers were demonstrating outside Fife College’s St Brycedale campus in Kirkcaldy as the pay dispute between teaching staff and Colleges Scotland continues.
Educational Institute of Scotland-Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS- FELA) members voted overwhelmingly for strike action back in December in pursuit of a fair cost of living pay award.
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Peter Bradbeer, EIS-FILA convener, Fife college said: “We hoped that the dispute would have been settled by now but because it has not we have another strike planned for later in the month.
“The negotiations broke down without an agreement last Thursday and new proposals by Colleges Scotland this week actually were a roll back on the harmonisation agreement and in all reality a step back in the negotiations.
“We are seeking a cost of living pay increase in line with government policy for the lectures across Scotland.
“There’s been a long running dispute over pay harmonisation across the country and we’ve finally got an agreement that lecturers across Scotland get paid the same and now it has become apparent that those at the top of the pay scale before this harmonisation have not had a pay increase for three years.
However, John Gribben, Director of Employment Services at Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association, accused EIS-FELA non-negotiating tactics and criticised the latest strike action.
He said: “Colleges have now made six improved pay offers to try and resolve the pay dispute and end the unnecessary EIS-FELA strikes, but, yet again, they have not accepted our latest offer, nor will they seek the views of their membership.
“While the EIS-FELA’s intransigence is disappointing, it is not surprising, as they don’t engage in meaningful negotiation and are not prepared to make any concessions in return for more money for already very well-paid lecturers.
“The pay harmonisation rises from 2017 to 2020, combined with the additional pay offer on the table from colleges, equates to a national average increase of over £5,000 but the EIS-FELA has rejected this as it is still not enough for them.
“This is the third time in four years that the EIS-FELA has gone out on strike and is regrettably now their default position. Lecturers in Scotland are by far the best paid across the UK.”
And Mr Gribben has accused EIS-FELA of “recklessly gambling with students’ futures”, adding that there was no more money for lecturers pay.
Commenting on today’s strike by staff, a spokesman for Fife College said: “The strike action by some members of the EIS union is unnecessary and very regrettable.
“All Fife College campuses will remain open on the day of the strike.
“Our students remain our top priority and we are therefore aiming to run as many classes as we can. To ensure the safety and wellbeing of all our students some classes have been cancelled, those students affected by this have been contacted individually.”