There was continuing strong support from lecturers, students and supporters of Further Education as the Educational Institute of Scotland – Further Education Lecturers Association staged a day of national strike action over pay. Picket lines were in place at colleges across Scotland, while a rally outside the Scottish Parliament also attracted strong support.

EIS-FELA members have been engaged in a programme of action short of strike, including a work to rule and a resulting boycott, in recent weeks and the day of national strike action marked an intensification of the dispute in the continuing campaign for a fair pay settlement.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Fela1.jpg

Scotland’s Further Education lecturers should have received a pay-rise in August 2022, but are still waiting for an acceptable offer from college employers a year and a half later. The only offers to have come from employers are below inflation, and below public sector pay policy despite colleges being part of the public sector.

Commenting, EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said, “Scotland’s college lecturers remain united and resolute in their campaign to secure a fair pay settlement from college employers. Scotland’s college lecturers last received a pay rise two-and- a-half years ago in August 2021. During this period, the country has endured a crippling cost-of-living crisis, with soaring prices for essentials such as food and clothing, heating and housing. Yet, the only offers to have come from college employers are sub-inflation and represent a real-terms pay cut for Scotland’s hard-working college lecturers.”

Ms Bradley continued, “Rather than seeking to resolve the dispute, college Principals have instead made the situation worse by threatening to withhold pay from lecturers engaged in a work-to-rule and resulting boycott as part of a legitimate programme of industrial action. This reprehensible threat runs counter to the Scottish Government’s stated opposition to Westminster anti-trade union laws and violates every policy of sound industrial relations and fair work principles.”

Ms Bradley added, “The EIS-FELA programme of industrial action, including a rolling schedule of further days of strike action, will continue until our members receive a fair pay offer that properly reflects the invaluable work that they do. It is way past time for Scotland’s college principals and the Scottish Government to listen to the united voice of Scotland’s Further Education lecturers, students and the communities that colleges serve. Only an improved and fair pay offer can end this dispute.”

Lecturers take targeted strike action in constituency areas of key Scottish Government ministers

Lecturers in three Scottish colleges have embarked on targeted industrial action in recent weeks, with Dundee & Angus College taking the first of two days of targeted strike action, shortly before this edition of the SEJ went to print. Fife College lectures were set to take two days of strike action the following week followed by Glasgow Clyde College the week after.

Each of these colleges sit within the parliamentary constituency areas of Scottish Government ministers with the responsibility for these public bodies; Dundee & Angus College for the Minister for Higher and Further Education (Graeme Dey), Fife College for the Cabinet Secretary for Education (Jenny Gilruth) and Glasgow Clyde College for the First Minister (Humza Yousaf). The targeted action is the latest step in the national industrial action campaign in a long-running dispute over pay and ongoing concerns of job security within the sector.

Members of EIS-FELA have, most recently, been undertaking industrial action short of strike since February 2024 and began strike action late last month, faced with a pay offer from College Employers Scotland (CES) which is below the current rate of inflation and is thus a real terms pay cut. The college lecturers’ pay offer is also below the Scottish Government public sector pay policy, at a time where other public sectors have seen Scottish Government intervention to resolve their disputes.

While EIS-FELA acknowledges a recent statement made within the current pay offer by CES, where any compulsory redundancies will not be related directly to this pay offer, there are still significant proposed job cuts on-going in at least two colleges. Despite ongoing discussions between EIS-FELA and CES, the representatives of college employers have yet to make any progress towards an improved offer on pay.