John Swinney has made colleges dispute worse, says Labour

Written by Tom Freeman on 17 May 2017 in News

Monica Lennon accuses SNP of bias towards employers over staff in colleges dispute

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John Swinney’s intervention in the industrial dispute between college lecturers and their employers has made the situation worse, Labour equalities spokesperson Monica Lennon has said.

Yesterday the Education Secretary announced he was formally intervening in a long-running row over pay and conditions which has seen lecturers strike after talks broke down.

He appointed an independent moderator and called on EIS members to return to work.


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But the teaching union refused, saying the strike would continue until college management honour commitments on equal pay made a year ago.

In a letter to Swinney, Lennon urged the Deputy First Minister to call for Colleges Scotland to honour the deal.

“I was disappointed that when that intervention eventually came this week it has appeared to only make the dispute worse, rather than bringing it closer to a resolution,” she said.

“The appointment of a private mediator must have the confidence of both parties if the mediation is to be a success.

“To call on the EIS to suspend their strike action, as you have done, without making any request to Colleges Scotland to take steps which would encourage such as a suspension has been undeniably frustrating for the lecturers currently out on strike.

“To ask lecturers to make concessions without asking the employers to do the same gives the distinct impression that the position of the Scottish Government is biased towards college management.”

Swinney told MSPs: “There is an obligation in the March 2016 agreement ‘To jointly develop a roadmap towards a harmonised workforce for the future’, which includes issues around pay and terms and conditions.”

He added: “I appeal to both parties to ensure that they secure the necessary agreement to enable the pay increases to be delivered, the terms and conditions to be applied and, most important of all, the students in our colleges to access their education resources.”

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