Scotland politics

Scottish college lecturers vote to strike over pay

College class

College lecturers across Scotland are to go on strike over pay.

The first of a potential series of strikes will take place on 17 March.

Almost nine out of 10 lecturers who took part in the ballot voted for strike action. Scotland's largest teaching union, the EIS, said turnout was 61%.

Colleges Scotland, the body that represents Scotland's colleges, has said the pay offer which it put before the union is the best deal possible.

If the dispute is not settled, members of the EIS Further Education Lecturers Association may go on strike on two days during the following week.

And after Easter, they may walk out on three days every week - potentially including the day of the Scottish election on 5 May.

'Angry and betrayed'

The dispute is linked to the return of national pay bargaining in the sector.

Lecturers at most colleges are angry about a 1% pay offer and are concerned about the differences between pay at different colleges.

They claim there are disparities of up to £10,000 a year.

The dispute at colleges in Glasgow is over a distinct issue - the union wants these colleges to join the national pay bargaining set-up.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "These are overwhelming ballot results, which clearly demonstrate the depth of frustration that lecturers are feeling over the lack of progress towards equal pay.

"Lecturers were promised a return to national bargaining, and clear steps to deliver equal pay in all colleges across the country.

"In reality, neither of these promises has been delivered and lecturers feel angry and betrayed. These feelings have been reinforced by colleges abandoning the negotiations and imposing a pay uplift, while other colleges have refused to take part in negotiations at all."

'No additional resources'

Shona Struthers, chief executive of Colleges Scotland, said: "We acknowledge the outcome of today's ballot, where around half of the EIS membership has voted to strike.

"Staff at all levels in colleges were offered a 1% pay rise, which is in line with other public sector agreements, and this was accepted by three of the four trade unions in Scotland's colleges.

"It is the best possible offer in the current difficult funding situation, because there are simply no additional resources available to finance a deal beyond that which has already been offered - and accepted by the other three unions."

She added: "We will continue working with all of the trade unions to progress harmonisation of pay and conditions across the college sector in Scotland, and to develop our colleges so that they are equipped and staffed for the challenges of future - meeting the needs of students and the economy for years to come."

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