EIS-FELA members across Scotland should have received a fair pay award over one year ago. The latest pay offer from College Employers Scotland falls below what is acceptable and would be funded by job losses across the public further education sector, including up to 400 lecturing posts lost.
EIS-FELA is very clear that we will never trade jobs for pay. College Employers Scotland must work with the Scottish Government to provide a fair and fully funded pay award for college lecturers that will not result in job losses.
Members of the EIS-FELA have been engaging in action short of strike (ASOS) since May 2023. Industrial action has now escalated to include a programme of national, rolling and targeted strike action over the course of September and October 2023.
The targeted strike action will take place in colleges that have campuses in the constituencies of key Scottish Government Ministers, including the First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education.
College Employers Scotland refused a request by EIS-FELA to extend the six month industrial action mandate. Due to this, EIS- FELA members were being re-balloted during September to ensure that the industrial action campaign can carry on beyond October 2023, if no acceptable and fully funded pay offer can be secured.
Commenting on the first day of national strike action, ahead of a rally outside the Scottish Parliament while First Minister’s questions went on inside, EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said, “A report by Audit Scotland, released today, has laid bare the financial crisis facing the college sector; with an 8.5% real terms reduction in Scottish Government funding between 2021/22 and 2023/24, at a time where costs have increased.
“This same report has outlined the risks, that the EIS has repeatedly voiced, regarding cuts to provision and the impact on opportunities for people across Scotland to access further education. As lecturing jobs go, course provision is cut and as course provision is cut, opportunities to access education reduce.”
EIS-FELA President Anne-Marie Harley, a lecturer at Forth Valley College, said, “As we are demonstrating with our programme of national strike action, members of the EIS-FELA are resolute in their campaign for fair pay and secure jobs. The Scottish Government must evidence its commitment to Further Education and no longer seek to distance itself while colleges are cut to the bone and college lecturers are already losing their livelihoods, with more likely to follow.
“While our employers seem intent on preserving the status quo and seeking to undermine legitimate industrial action, despite agreeing to jointly lobby the Scottish Government with EIS-FELA on pay, we will continue to call on the Scottish Government to demonstrate that Further Education is truly valued.”