Scotland politics

College lecturers in strike ballot over pay

College students Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption The union is unhappy that staff doing similar jobs earn a different amount at different colleges

Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, is balloting college lecturers over their pay.

The ballot closes in the first week of March, and a strike could take place before Easter.

The union is unhappy about discrepancies over how much staff who do similar jobs earn at different colleges.

Colleges Scotland said it was "disappointed", saying it didn't want students to be "disadvantaged".

The strike ballot is in support of the EIS Further Education Lecturers Association's pay claim for 2015/16.

Union general secretary Larry Flanagan said the offer on the table was "unacceptable" and "unfair".

'Unfair offer'

He said: "The EIS submitted a pay claim more than 15 months ago, seeking a fair cost of living increase for lecturers and for colleges to commit to addressing the current pay inequity across the sector.

"Colleges are obliged to deliver the Scottish government's commitment for national bargaining on pay and conditions, so it is unacceptable that they have tabled an offer that would widen, rather than narrow, pay differentials for lecturers doing the same job in different colleges.

"The fact that colleges are now threatening to impose this unfair offer will only strengthen lecturers' resolve and lead to increased support for strike action."

The postal ballot is open to members at most of Scotland's colleges, and runs until 4 March.

'Students disadvantaged'

Colleges Scotland said it was "disappointed by the actions of the EIS".

Chief executive Shona Struthers said: "The college sector is committed to national bargaining and to addressing pay differentials.

"However, this cannot be done overnight nor in isolation to conditions of service, which for lecturing staff are very generous.

"The EIS position is so far from what is realistic that we fear any industrial action will not only detrimentally affect students but also do little to improve lecturers' prospects of reaching a pay settlement this year."

The Scottish government called on management and staff to "work together to find a solution in the best interest of students".

Further education has been an early battleground in the Scottish Parliament election campaign, with the Scottish Conservatives pledging an extra £60m to colleges and the creation of 10 new "skills academies".

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to put education "front and centre" in the SNP campaign, and has defended the Scottish government's track record, pointing to £526m of resource budgets for the 2015/16 year.

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