As the SEJ goes to print, EIS-FELA remain in dispute nationally over fair pay and job security and members across Scotland’s colleges are currently being balloted yet again, for both strike action and action short of strike.
The EIS-FELA Executive has strongly recommended that members vote YES to both ASOS and strike action and secure a mandate, if necessary, to engage in industrial action throughout the remainder of the academic year.
College lecturers should have received a pay uplift in September 2022 and have already weathered one winter during the cost- of-living crisis as this one begins. Worse than this, negotiations at the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC) have been clouded by threats to jobs across the sector, with compulsory redundancies a reality at both Edinburgh and City of Glasgow colleges.
Despite talks at the NJNC taking place over the previous few weeks, between EIS-FELA negotiators and College Employers Scotland, no agreement has been reached on either an acceptable three year pay offer or a statement on job security.
EIS-FELA has made it clear repeatedly that it will not trade jobs for pay and yet employers have dragged their heels in negotiations, and the Scottish Government has so far sat on its hands, seeking to deny its responsibility for the growing crisis in Further Education.
The Scottish Government’s reform agenda for the college sector will require significant goodwill from the lecturing workforce and no such goodwill can be guaranteed while this dispute over pay and job security is allowed to continue. The current national dispute also underlines that any reform of the college sector must urgently address the dysfunctional governance of a sector that has overseen eight periods of industrial action in nine years.
Negotiations at the NJNC continue, with EIS-FELA negotiators committed to seeking a settlement that ensures a fair pay rise, job security and a period of time that will hopefully allow for work to restore positive employment relations in the college sector. However, if College Employers Scotland, college Principals and the Scottish Government fail to address this crisis, EIS-FELA members may once again have no choice but to take national industrial action.
This re-ballot is a significant opportunity to send a message to both college employers – that it is time to match EIS-FELA’s willingness to negotiate; and to the Scottish Government – that they must accept their responsibility and address the funding crisis facing Scotland’s colleges.
City of Glasgow College
Following positive discussions, City of Glasgow College and EIS-FELA have reached an agreement in principle on a way forward to
resolve the current industrial dispute.
Accordingly, the EIS-FELA have agreed to suspend strikes while talks continue to finalise an agreement. The final proposal will be subject to a ballot of EIS-FELA members.