College lecturers vote for industrial action

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Lecturers in Scotland's colleges are staging the first, of a potential series, of walkouts
Image caption,
Lecturers walked out in a strike over pay last year

College lecturers have voted for industrial action in a dispute over a pay deal agreed almost a year ago.

The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) held the consultative ballot amid claims of a lack of progress in discussions over the agreement.

When it closed earlier, 97% of lecturers backed industrial action, on a turnout of 64%.

Colleges Scotland Employers Association said the strike threat was "disappointing".

They added that it was "totally inappropriate" to threaten industrial action while "constructive talks" were ongoing.

Members of the EIS Further Education Lecturers' Association (EIS-FELA) took part in the ballot.

'Patience exhausted'

The EIS-FELA executive has now asked the EIS to authorise a statutory industrial action ballot of its members. The full EIS executive will process this request next week.

Larry Flanagan, EIS general secretary, said: "Scotland's further education lecturers have been extremely patient in waiting for college management to deliver on their pay commitments, but that patience is now exhausted.

"After a year of dragging their feet, it is time for Scotland's colleges to make good their promises to lecturers on fair and equal pay."

EIS-FELA president John Kelly added: "This is an outstanding ballot result which clearly demonstrates the strong feelings held by Scotland's FE lecturers.

"While no lecturer wants to take strike action, we feel our hand has been forced by the actions of Scotland's college managers.

"We are now requesting a full statutory ballot for industrial action, and would urge all members to continue to support our campaign for full delivery of the pay agreement that was promised to us."

Negotiating table

Shona Struthers, chief executive of the Colleges Scotland Employers' Association, said it held negotiations with the EIS on Thursday and agreed to continue talks this month.

She said: "Given yesterday's progress, it is disappointing and totally inappropriate that the EIS is threatening disruptive strike action while constructive talks are ongoing.

"Lecturing staff have already received a pay increase for 2016/17 which was above public sector pay policy recommendations, and we are fully committed to honouring the terms of agreement reached last March, including paying the top of the salary scale of £40,000 for lecturers.

"A national pay scale and migration plan has already been jointly developed with the EIS which will give lecturers on average a 9% pay increase over the next two years.

"We came to the negotiating table on Thursday in good faith, open to compromise, and hoping to secure agreement on the implementation of the total package agreed in March 2016, which included bringing pay and conditions together."