John Swinney call on college lecturers to suspend strikes rejected
EIS rejects plea to return to work while pay deal agreed last year is not honoured
John Swinney - Scottish Parliament
College lecturers have reacted angrily after Education Secretary John Swinney formally intervened in an ongoing industrial dispute between them and their employers by appointing an independent adjudicator and calling on strikers to return to work.
The ongoing strikes had been "detrimental and disruptive" to students, he said.
Teaching union the EIS welcomed the intervention but said strikes would continue.
A long-running dispute over pay and conditions has raged since a move to national bargaining was introduced as part of reforms to the sector.
The trade union accused college management of “broken promises” regarding a national agreement made a year ago.
Talks have been ongoing around the number of core teaching hours and the number of annual leave days but have not been resolved.
Swinney has appointed QC John Sturrock to mediate further discussions.
Speaking to MSPs, Swinney said: "I asked the EIS to suspend the planned strikes that were due to take place this week and going forward while the process of active dispute resolution is in progress."
Conservative Adam Tomkins said: "The overriding professional duty on all teachers is to act at all times in their students’ best interests."
Shona Struthers, Chief Executive, the Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association, said:
“We welcome the decision by the Scottish Government to appoint John Sturrock QC as an independent mediator to facilitate the ongoing talks.
“We would also reiterate the Deputy First Minister’s reasonable request for the EIS to suspend further strikes while these talks continue.”
But EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said strikes would continue.
"The intervention itself belies any notion that the Scottish Government has no role to play in these issues and of course, ultimately, it is the Scottish Government which determines the financial settlement of the sector,” he said.
“We are disappointed that the Deputy First Minister did not press Colleges Scotland to implement the agreed April pay settlement as this could have led to an immediate suspension of the strike action."
Lecturers took to twitter to express their disappointment in Swinney's remarks.
"More fitting of a Tory response," said one. "Blame the workers and unions excuse the management."
"I'm a card carrying member of @theSNP & I will NOT be out campaigning for ANY candidates after @JohnSwinney dismal display," said another.
Labour's Monica Lennon and Ross Greer of the Greens were applauded by lecturers in the gallery for pointing out a pay deal agreed last year has not been honoured by employers.
“Asking college lecturers to call off future strikes when management haven't honoured the pay deal agreed a year ago is outrageous and undermines the lecturers' position," said Greer. "Management cannot be given any breathing space when they have simply failed to deliver what was promised."
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