6 March 2019
Scotland’s largest college campus. Photograph: Calam Pengilly
Strike comes amid latest breakdown in negotiations
Lecturers across the country have walked out of classrooms for the third time since January in a dispute over pay.
Led by the EIS union, teaching staff at the City of Glasgow College, Glasgow Clyde College, Glasgow Kelvin College and many other colleges up and down the country downed tools after the breakdown of talks between the union and Colleges Scotland.
Striking staff gathered at the City of Glasgow College this morning to protest the lack of negotiation by management. A senior member of staff at the college, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “We’re looking for the same 3% pay rise as those in the rest of the public sector. We’ve come down from 10% to 3% to accept the public sector standard, but management are not accepting it, we’d settle for that, but they don’t want to.”
In January after the first in a series of four planned strike days, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “Scotland’s college lecturers have not received a cost of living pay increase since 2016, and are asking for only the same type of cost of living increase that has been awarded to many other groups of public sector workers.”
Picket line outside of Glasgow City College this morning. Photograph: Calam Pengilly
The latest offer put forward by COSLA and the Scottish Government on 25 January 2019 includes a 3% pay rise for each of the next three academic years to 2021 and is backdated to April 2018. They have also restructured the pay grade format to remove the lowest level and added a 3% rise onto the remaining levels, creating a 6% pay increase as of this year.
John Gribben, director of employment services at Colleges Scotland said: “The pay harmonisation rises from 2017 to 2020, combined with the additional pay offer on the table from colleges, equates to a national average increase of over £5,000 but the EIS-FELA has rejected this as it is still not enough for them.”
He added: “The Scottish Government has made it clear that there is no more money for lecturers’ pay and colleges have to find this additional £12.6 million pay deal on offer by making cuts. If there were any more money available, our priorities would be for additional investment in enhancing students’ experiences and on further improving college campuses, as £65.8 million is already being spent over three years on lecturers’ pay and conditions.”
Classrooms at the City of Glasgow College were empty today and Deon Hacka, a student at the college said: “I’ve been affected by the strikes, there were no teachers for my graded unit this morning. It’s important to have teachers to support my learning.”
He added: “Even if it’s just one day, obviously it can affect a student’s progress.”
He was sympathetic to the lecturers cause though, saying: “I think we should honour teachers. They’re the influencers of the future of this city.”
More strike action is expected in the coming months. Flanagan said: “Regrettably, no new offer was made and so the EIS will continue moving towards a statutory strike ballot which will open on Monday of next week.”