College lecturers vote 'overwhelmingly' for strike action over pay

College students Image copyright SPL
Image caption Details of the college lecturers strikes will be decided in the new year

College lecturers across Scotland have voted to strike over pay.

Members of the EIS Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-FELA) who took part in the ballot were overwhelmingly in favour of action.

The union said college management had failed to offer a fair cost of living pay increase.

The employers said the average pay rise would have been 12% over three years. Strike dates are likely to be announced in the new year.

A total of 90% of of members chose action as the ballot attracted a higher-than-normal turnout of 52%.

College bosses said staff received "the best pay offer anywhere across Scotland's public services" of more than 12% over three years.

'Last resort'

However, union bosses have accused management of "using conflated figures in publicity to obfuscate the pay claim", and are demanding a pay rise higher than the increasing cost of living.

EIS-FELA president Pam Currie said: "We are taking this action as a last resort, as the result of management's unwillingness to negotiate a fair offer.

"Lecturers do not take strike action lightly, and we have done everything that we can over the past two years of talks to attempt to reach a fair negotiated settlement.

"We have repeatedly sought to engage management in meaningful negotiations and formally submitted a revised claim based on public sector pay policy in line with the offer made to support staff.

"Even at this late stage, we hope that college management will now come back to the table to begin meaningful negotiations and deliver a cost of living increase similar to others in the public sector."

Image caption If the strikes go ahead they could lead to disruption for the third time in four years

If a strike goes ahead, it will be the third industrial action in the last four years, and the latest as part of the long-running dispute.

Describing the result of the vote as "extremely disappointing", John Gribben, director of employment services at Colleges Scotland Employers' Association, said: "At the heart of this dispute is that the EIS-FELA will not accept that the pay increases from national bargaining are increases in pay.

"They also want more pay for cost of living."

Finances 'extremely tight'

He added: "The employers' view is that a pay rise is a pay rise, irrespective of where it comes from, and the EIS-FELA has rejected a combined pay offer which would increase lecturers' pay on average by more than 12% over three years - this is the best pay offer anywhere across Scotland's public services.

"Finances are extremely tight for colleges and all of the 1.3% real term increase in revenue funding for colleges - £18.3m - announced in last week's 2019-20 draft Budget will be used for national bargaining.

"The employers' final pay offer would increase lecturers' average pay from £36,125 in April 2016 to £40,522 in April 2019 - an increase of 12.2%. This is a very generous offer."

The EIS-FELA said strike dates would be announced "in due course".

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