Pay deal struck for college lecturers in Scotland

Scotland's college lecturers have voted to accept a pay rise which will see them receive a salary boost of £1900 over the next three years.

College lecturers on strike earlier this year.

Members of the EIS-FELA union, voted by 88 per cent to accept the new offer - on a turnout of 66 per cent - which will ensure there are no further strikes at Scotland's colleges.

The union had recommended staff accept the offer, after six days of walkouts earlier this year as lecturers demanded a cost-of-living increase in pay.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, "Scotland's lecturers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of accepting the improved pay offer, bringing an end to a long-running dispute within the college sector.

"The EIS hopes that the settlement of this dispute will allow for a period of stability within Scotland's colleges. It is regrettable that lecturers were forced into taking six days of strike action to secure a fair cost of living pay settlement. Nevertheless, it is very welcome that a resolution has been reached.

"With industrial action now at an end, our lecturers can return to doing what they most want to do – offering their full support to students in all aspects of their learning."

The offer, which is backdated to April 2017, will see lecturers receive £400 unconsolidated and £1,500 consolidated rises over the next three years and five months. There will also be clarification on discretionary time and observation of learning.

However it is expected that the £17.5 million cost of the deal will force colleges to make other cuts.

Mr Flanagan called on the Scottish Government to do more to support the college sector. He said: "Scotland's colleges play a vital role in supporting lifelong learning, and are particularly important in providing opportunities for adult returners to education.

"College lecturers work extremely hard to support students in their learning, and want to ensure the best possible learning experience for students in all of Scotland's colleges - but the EIS believes that greater investment is needed in colleges, and would call on Scottish Government to better support the sector."

Shona Struthers, of the Colleges Scotland Employers' Association, said: "We very much welcome this agreement which ends the EIS-FELA's industrial action and restores some stability to the sector.

"We are especially pleased for the students who have been adversely affected by the strike action and its action short of strike action.

"The £17.5 million this deal is costing all comes from colleges making cuts, which will be challenging as the sector is already under considerable financial pressures."

She added: "The total package deal with the EIS-FELA gives lecturers an extra £1,900, while providing clarity around flexible working and observation of learning. Lecturers in Scotland are the best paid in the UK, earning approximately £10,000 more than their English counterparts, and the pay harmonisation rises, combined with the improved pay deal equate to a national average increase of over £5,000 - or more than 13 per cent.

"Lecturers have already also had significant improvements in terms and conditions over the same 2017-20 pay period, including the introduction of 62 days' holiday per year and 23 hours per week class contact time."

Scottish Greens Education Spokesperson Ross Greer MSP said: “Cost of living pay increases and a years-overdue harmonisation of pay across colleges were never the same issue and EIS-FELA were right to hold the line on that.

"The determined and sustained action of college lecturers has won once again and they have continued to show the value of strong trade unions. Hopefully next time college management will think again before forcing this level of disruption onto staff and students.”