Fife College lecturers to begin strike action

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Lecturers at Fife College will begin the first in a series of scheduled strikes on Thursday.

The industrial action is being taken with the support of the EIS Further Education Lecturers’ Association (FELA), calling for fair pay for all at the 19 further education colleges across Scotland.

An analysis of lecturers’ pay in Scotland shows a difference in salary of up to nearly £10,000 in some cases. Some Fife lecturers have discovered that they are paid less than their colleagues in Aberdeen, despite working more hours.

Three full day strikes will take place before the Easter break, with three full days a week planned once the students return for the summer term, until the end of June.

Carol McDaid (43) from Glenrothes, who is studying for an HND in software development, said: “We are totally with the lecturers on this but at the same time, students are worried in case the strike continues all the way through to June.

“Some are doing degree courses and some doing two year HNDs. There are also some trying to get into university and may not pass their course if there are no lecturers there to conduct classes.

“There seems to be a hope that the initial action will have the maximum effect and get the Government back to the table.

It has to be resolved - there are people like myself who have degrees hanging on it.”

Carol said she was more concerned for younger students around her daughter’s age.

“I think there will be an anger towards the Government. At the end of the day, if we didn’t have tutors, we wouldn’t be able to qualify.”

John Kelly, EIS-FELA president, said members were “not going to take it any more” - 87 per cent of those who voted in the ballot favoured strike action - and promises made over pay have not been kept.

“Scotland’s lecturers have sent a very clear message to college management and to the Scottish Government that they are not prepared to accept broken promises on national bargaining and equal pay,” he said.

“The lack of any meaningful offer on fair pay from college management, coupled with the facts of imposing the pay offer and that many colleges have not even taken part in this supposed ‘national’ bargaining process, demonstrate the chasm that exists between what lecturers were promised and the current position.

“Our members will commence industrial action and will continue to strike until the promises that were made to us are delivered by colleges and the Scottish Government.”

A spokesman for Fife College said: “Fife College is both perplexed and disappointed by the EIS decision to ballot and strike nationally against a 1 per cent pay increase which is in line with other public sector bodies, including the recent pay award for NHS staff.

“We will do everything we can to minimise disruption to students but inevitably some disruption will occur.

“We will be in constant communication with our students to reduce any negative impact caused by the industrial action.”

The full timetable for strike action is: Thursday, March 17, Tuesday, March 22 and Wednesday, March 23 and then Tuesday, April 26, Wednesday, April 27 and Thursday, April 28; Tuesday May 3, Wednesday, May 4 and Thursday, May 5; Tuesday, May 10, Wednesday May 11 and Thursday, May 12; Tuesday, May 17, Wednesday, May 18 and Thursday, May 19; Tuesday, May 24, Wednesday, May 25 and Thursday, May 26; Tuesday, May 31, Wednesday, June 1 and Thursday, June 2; Tuesday, June 7, Wednesday, June 8 and Thursday, June 9; Tuesday, June 14, Wednesday, June 15 and Thursday, June 16; and finally Tuesday, June 21, Wednesday, June 22 and Thursday, June 23.