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College strike action suspended as pay talks make progress

EIS General Secretary, Larry Flanagan. Image credit: EIS

College strike action suspended as pay talks make progress

The union representing college lecturers in Scotland has suspended strike action due to take place at on Wednesday 8 May after progress on pay and working practices at talks held last week.

But the union, Educational Institute of Scotland Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA), is warning that industrial action short of strikes will continue.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: "We welcome the constructive dialogue around pay which took place with Colleges Scotland last week and hope that this positive movement will continue when we meet again on Thursday, 9th May."

"The FELA Executive has acknowledged its commitment to continuing negotiation and resolving this pay dispute, by the suspension of the strike action, planned for this week. We also welcome the agreement in principle on the National Working Practices Agreement, which was reached at the NJNC [National Joint Negotiation Committee] last week."

"This is an important document which sets out national terms and conditions for college lecturers and concludes a workstream which has been ongoing for over three years. This document reflects the commitment of the sector to national bargaining and in ensuring parity for Scotland's college lecturers."

The move has been welcomed by the Employers Association of Colleges Scotland (CS), but the organisation has expressed its disappointment over the continuation of other industrial action, including, CS claims, the withholding of students' assessment results, and has warned that future strike action planned for later in May, has not been called off by the union.

John Gribben, Director of Employment Services at Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association, stated the new offer combined with other pay improvements since 2017 would amount to an increase for lecturers of more than 12 per cent.

Gribben said: “Colleges have made a further improved financial offer to the EIS-FELA subject to agreement on terms and conditions. We believe lecturers would accept the deal and have asked the EIS-FELA to take our offer to its members for approval.

“Lecturers have also had significant improvements in terms and conditions over the same 2017-20 pay period, including an enviable 62 days’ holiday per year and a reduction in class contact time to 23 hours per week, so they are well paid, have terrific terms and conditions, and we believe this further improved offer would be accepted by their members.”

Members of EIS-FELA have taken four days of strike action in the pay dispute.

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