Scottish college lecturers vote to escalate industrial action
College lecturers in Scotland have voted to escalate their industrial action over pay – which could include boycotting the input of exam results.
Members of the EIS Further Education Lecturers' Association (FELA) voted overwhelmingly to intensify their action.
It follows a series of one-day strikes over a fair cost of living pay increase from college management.
Colleges Scotland has condemned the move as “recklessly gambling with the futures of college students”.
But Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, said: “Today’s ballot result confirms that Scotland’s College lecturers remain fully committed to the EIS-FELA campaign for a fair cost of living pay increase.
“The turnout in this ballot is actually higher than the turnout in our previous ballot for strike action, providing clear evidence that the mood amongst college lecturers is hardening.
“This ballot result also proves that the recent claim from Colleges Scotland that support for the campaign was waning Is simply misleading propaganda from an organisation which seems to be more interested in attempting to union-bust than reach a settlement.”
He added: “EIS-FELA have attempted to negotiate in good faith throughout this process and continue to ask only for a fair pay settlement in line with public sector pay policy.”
The turnout for the ballot was 54.9 per cent, with 89.9 per cent of those voting in favour of industrial action.
John Gribben, director of employment services at Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association, said: “Only a third of all lecturers at Scotland’s colleges have voted to support EIS-FELA’s appalling ploy, and even among EIS-FELA members, only a minority supported this attack on students.
“We are extremely disappointed that the EIS-FELA is committed to recklessly gambling with the futures of college students. It is not the behaviour anyone would expect from a professional body.
“By withholding assessment results, the EIS-FELA will wreak havoc with students’ life opportunities, as without external verification by awarding bodies, they would be unable to achieve their qualifications, meaning they would be unable to move on to other courses at college or university, finalise their apprenticeships or move into jobs conditional on passing courses.
“This is an unprecedented and disgraceful attack on students at a critical time for them and their futures.
“Lecturers in Scotland are by far the best paid in the UK, and the pay harmonisation rises from 2017 to 2020, combined with the current pay offer on the table from colleges, equate to a national average increase of over £5,000 – or more than 12 per cent – but the EIS-FELA has rejected this and refuses to make any concessions or compromises at all.”
Labour education spokesman Iain Gray said: "This decision by EIS-FELA today is the latest in a long line of indications that the further education sector is not a priority for the SNP.
“Hardworking college lecturers are merely seeking a cost of living pay rise that they are entitled to, in line with public sector pay policy.
“The Scottish Government can only wash their hands of this dispute for so long, they must intervene and ensure college staff receive the offer that they deserve."