College teaching staff in Scotland have voted to accept a pay offer of a 2 per cent consolidated pay increase.
Members of the Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA) backed the 2020-21 offer for all lecturers with 97 per cent support. Scotland's FE colleges returned to a system of national bargaining again a few years ago, following decades of individual institutions agreeing their own pay and conditions.
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A spokesperson for the union said: “The EIS welcomes this pay settlement which, while it did not fully meet our pay claim, has been endorsed in a ballot by our membership. Our members continue to do all that they can to support learners in colleges across Scotland – a vital role which has become even more challenging as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.”
The spokesperson added: “With professional registration through the General Teaching Council for Scotland, the professional status of Scotland’s further education lecturers is continuing to receive long-overdue recognition. Further education lecturers are highly dedicated and experienced professionals, who deserve to be paid accordingly.
“In recent years, Scotland’s FE lecturers have been required to take several rounds of industrial action – initially to secure a fair national pay agreement for all and, subsequently, to compel college employers to honour the deal they had already agreed to. It is a positive development that industrial action was not necessary to secure an acceptable pay offer from the employers this year.”
A spokesperson for Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association said: “We are pleased that the EIS-FELA has accepted the employers’ offer which will see all lecturing staff across Scotland receive a 2 per cent consolidated pay increase for 2020-21. This year has been extremely challenging because of Covid-19 and the sector is facing significant financial challenges, so it is good news that an agreement has been reached.
“During the pandemic, college staff stepped up to effectively deliver online remote teaching during lockdown and have worked hard to ensure that blended learning can take place this academic year, and it is only right that this dedication is recognised and augments the excellent pay, terms and conditions already in place for lecturing staff across Scotland.
“Colleges will be vital to Scotland’s inclusive social and economic recovery as we emerge from the pandemic by providing opportunities for people to train, reskill and upskill, and our staff will be at the heart of supporting individuals and delivering the skilled workforce that businesses need.”
Meanwhile, EIS members at Forth Valley College are balloting for industrial action over what they say are plans by the college to make over 30 lecturers’ posts redundant and replace them with new “instructor assessor” posts. The move, according to the union, will undermine professional standards, as instructor assessor roles will have no requirement to gain a teaching qualification or to comply with the professional standards for lecturers in Scotland currently being developed.
Ken Thomson, principal of Forth Valley College, said: “The threat of strike action is very disappointing and has serious implications for our learners. The consultation is closed, staff are now in post. We need to move on, there is no going back. EIS-FELA are well aware that we have no plans to make any further changes similar to the Instructor Assessor role and hope they can reconsider their position. Now more than ever is the time for all staff to come together in a collective effort to support each other, our learners, our local communities and the economic recovery.”