College lecturers cancel strike action

10 June 2019, 15:08 | Updated: 10 June 2019, 15:09


College lecturers have "overwhelmingly" accepted a new pay offer.

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland Further Education Lecturers' Association (EIS-FELA) voted by 88% in favour of the deal in a ballot that closed on Monday afternoon.

The union had recommended lecturers to accept the offer.

It will see lecturers receive £400 unconsolidated and £1,500 consolidated over a period of three years and five months, with clarification on discretionary time and observation of learning.

The deal is backdated to April 1 2017 and runs to August 31 2020, with the additional £17.5 million cost said to require colleges to make cuts.

Lecturers staged several days of walkouts this year in a call for a cost-of-living increase in pay.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said it was welcome that a resolution to the long-running dispute had now been reached.

"Scotland's lecturers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of accepting the improved pay offer, bringing an end to a long-running dispute within the college sector," he said.

"The EIS hopes that the settlement of this dispute will allow for a period of stability within Scotland's colleges. It is regrettable that lecturers were forced into taking six days of strike action to secure a fair cost-of-living pay settlement.

"Nevertheless, it is very welcome that a resolution has been reached."

Mr Flanagan added that the Scottish Government must now provide greater support to the sector.

"Scotland's colleges play a vital role in supporting lifelong learning, and are particularly important in providing opportunities for adult returners to education", he said.

"College lecturers work extremely hard to support students in their learning, and want to ensure the best possible learning experience for students in all of Scotland's colleges - but the EIS believes that greater investment is needed in colleges, and would call on Scottish Government to better support the sector."

"EIS-FELA members have stood united throughout this dispute and, today, they have continued to be united in demonstrating their support for this new pay offer.

"With industrial action now at an end, our lecturers can return to doing what they most want to do - offering their full support to students in all aspects of their learning."

Shona Struthers, of the Colleges Scotland Employers' Association, said: "We very much welcome this agreement which ends the EIS-FELA's industrial action and restores some stability to the sector.

"We are especially pleased for the students who have been adversely affected by the EIS-FELA's strike action and its action short of strike action.

"The £17.5 million this deal is costing all comes from colleges making cuts, which will be challenging as the sector is already under considerable financial pressures."

Ms Struthers added: "Colleges' total package deal with the EIS-FELA gives lecturers an extra £1,900, while providing clarity around flexible working and observation of learning.

"Lecturers in Scotland are the best paid in the UK, earning approximately £10,000 more than their English counterparts, and the pay harmonisation rises from 2017 to 2020, combined with the improved pay deal agreed with the EIS-FELA, equate to a national average increase of over £5,000 - or more than 13%.

"Lecturers have already also had significant improvements in terms and conditions over the same 2017-20 pay period, including the introduction of 62 days' holiday per year and 23 hours per week class contact time."