Progress made as Fife College strike continues

Striking staff and students at Fife College
Striking staff and students at Fife College

There have been “small signs” of progress between EIS members and management as Fife College staff continue strike action.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan met with Colleges Scotland on five occasions last week to demand that management honour its NJNC Agreement which it made with EIS-FELA members in March of last year, but has reneged upon.

The EIS brought forward five new proposals; an increase in weekly contact hours to a maximum 22 hours with ‘no detriment, improved cover arrangements with a ‘+2 hours’ arrangement with no detriment, an agreed list of duties for lecturers, and a commitment to negotiate annual leave if Management agree to no detriment.

The March 2016 NJNC Agreement includes a no detriment clause on pay – a principle that management have previously agreed to.

Mr Flanagan said, “In Friday’s meeting, Management made a potential offer that would involve a shift on ’no detriment’ as the EIS requested.

“However, this is subject to the approval of the Employers Association. We do, however, welcome this potential movement and change in attitude from the management side.”

He added, “Management have asked the EIS to suspend the strike action but there is insufficient reason for us to do so, as major issues still remain outstanding.

“Management still have not committed to honour the deal that they signed in March last year – more than one year ago – so lecturers will continue with strike action.

Mr Flanagan also called for government intervention.

“Colleges are publicly funded bodies and they are accountable to the government,” he said, “It is clearly now long overdue for the Scottish Government to step in and compel colleges to meet their obligations to lecturers and students.”

Alison Davidson, EIS branch secretary for Fife College, said staff were willing to carry on the strike.

She said: “Management went away with a number of proposals to put to the Employers Association and there will be further talks taking place today.

“These are meaningful proposals that we can work with.

“Although we are on strike today, and are willing to come out again on Thursday, if there is progress then the strike could be suspended whilst meaningful talks are taking place.”

Alison said that the feedback they have received has been positive.

“The support for the strike has been very solid,” she said.

“We have students joining us on the picket line, they have been very supportive, as have the support staff.

“We’re getting a very positive vibe from our students and colleagues so we will remain strong until we can reach some sort of meaningful agreement.”