Fife College strike: ‘Lecturers reject 12% pay rise’

Fife College.
Fife College.

Fife College lecturers are on strike today, after bosses said a 12 percent payrise was turned down by staff.

Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association have been locked in negotiations with teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland.

It is understood 10 meetings have so far been held in order to end strike action, but without success.

The lecturers say they are seeking a cost of living increase. It comes after a similar strike over pay in 2017, with a previous one in 2016. Further strikes are planned for Wednesday, March 6, and Thursday, March 21.

John Gribben, Director of Employment Services at Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association, said: “The EIS is aware that colleges are already having to make cuts to finance the additional pay offer which they have rejected.

“Their unreasonable pay demands would mean fewer courses, fewer students, and fewer lecturing jobs in the college sector.”

He added: “College lecturers in Scotland are by far the best paid across the UK and they have rejected a combined pay deal that would increase national average pay by over 12%, or more than £4,000, from 2017-20.

“Any deal must be affordable and sustainable for the sector and the EIS should recognise how strong the overall package for lecturing staff is.

“Not only are lecturers benefitting from significant pay rises, they have also seen substantial improvements in their terms and conditions, including 62 days’ annual holiday, a reduction in weekly contact with students to 23 hours, and excellent pensions provision.”

However, college staff say strike action is a last resort and a result of Colleges Scotland refusing to honour pay agrrements already made two years ago.

Marie Penman, lecturer at Fife College in Kirkcaldy, said: ‘We are on strike because Colleges Scotland are refusing to honour a deal that was agreed during negotiations back in 2017. They accepted our pay claim but have now refused to honour it.

‘You don’t agree to do something, then simply renege on it because you change your mind. That’s shoddy practice in my book and as a union, we will always stand up against this.”

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said: “The EIS is asking only for a fair cost of living increase, similar to that already awarded to college support staff and also in-line with public sector pay policy.

“Management’s claims of unaffordability of our claim have already been shown to be based on some rather questionable calculations.

“The actual costs of the award to support staff and our pay claim for lecturers are practically identical, yet Colleges Scotland continues to push the fantasy that one claim is affordable and sustainable while the other is unaffordable and unrealistic.”

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