Paisley college lecturers walk out in row over pay that has rumbled on since June

Paisley college lecturers are united in their resolve according to organizers as they took part in a one-day strike yesterday.

The EIS-FELA union representing the lecturers has called the strike action after pay talks broke down.

More strikes are planned for the next three weeks should the dispute not be resolved before then. Lecturers are also taking part in a resulting boycott meaning coursework is marked and students told the results, but they are not put into the college system.

EIS-FELA has asked Colleges Scotland for a £1,300 pay increase however employers have offered a £850 increase alongside a £150 one-off payment as thanks for efforts during the covid pandemic.

John Kelly, EIS-FELA branch secretary at West College Scotland, said the deal being offered amounted to a real-terms pay cut.

John Kelly, who represents EIS-FELA members at West College Scotland

“We’ve been trying to negotiate since June 2021,” he said. “They’re offering us the equivalent of a two per cent increase at a time when inflation is running at seven per cent according to CPI (Consumer Price Index) and nine per cent according to the RPI (Retail Price Index).

“People’s workloads are increasing, lecturers have been juggling a hybrid of online and in-person teaching and a lot has been done thanks to the goodwill of staff.

“Very few senior management have been seen on campus throughout the pandemic and that’s fueled a lot of anger.”

He added: “There was solid support for industrial action in Paisley and at West College Scotland’s other two campuses in Clydebank and Greenock.

“We want a fair pay rise, not a massive one.”

The Director of College Employers Scotland, which represents the colleges, has criticized the union for initiating strike action after rejecting the pay offer.

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More strikes are planned if pay negotiations fall through
Gavin Donoghue, Director of College Employers Scotland

Gavin Donoghue said: “It is disappointing that the EIS-FELA has decided to strike despite being made an increased offer at negotiations two weeks ago.

“The original offer to lecturers included a £150 one-off payment, recognizing their contributions during the pandemic and, along with the £850 consolidated payment in recognition of the work done throughout the pandemic, was a higher pay offer than that already made to and accepted by teachers, civil servants, police, fire service.

“This pay offer would ensure Scotland’s lecturers remain by far the best paid in the United Kingdom and continue to enjoy the best terms and conditions in the four nations.”

He added: “Our offer is in fact beyond what colleges can afford, we have pushed our resources to the maximum because we value the work that lecturers do and wish to avoid further disruption to our students.

“Colleges are already in deficit by £5.7m and the sector is facing a real-terms cut in funding of £51.9m this autumn. Strike action will not result in an increased offer – there simply isn’t any more funding that colleges can put forward.”

Further strike action is planned for April 27 and 27 and then on May 4, 5, 10, 11 and 12 if a deal is not struck before then.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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