In refusing to hear two speakers from Educational Lecturing Services at its October meeting (Jotter, October 25) the executive of the Educational Institute of Scotland's College Lecturers' Association was most certainly not involved in "union shenanigans". Indeed, if anyone is guilty of roguishness, mischief, an act of treachery or deception, it is ELS.
The matter has a short history. For the past couple of years, ELS, a private agency which provides temporary lecturing staff to colleges, has been entering into agreements with some colleges in England which have resulted in those colleges dismissing the temporary staff employed by them. ELS is now attempting to expand into Scotland.
Over the summer ELS invited the CLA to send a small delegation to its head office in Nottingham to discuss ELS operations. A number of reassuring statements were made during the visit and when these were reported to the September meeting of the CLA executive it was agreed to invite ELS to make a presentation to ELS was then invited to the October meeting.
It emerged during October, however, that ELS had concluded an agreement with the management at Falkirk College, where the EIS is derecognised, to provide all temporary staff there from January 1997. Management has indicated that the agreement will result in the dismissal of more than 160 temporary lecturers who are currently employed by the college. All this has been done without the EIS, which represents many of the temporary staff, even being consulted.
At the October meeting of the CLA executive, a motion to suspend standing orders to hear a report of developments at Falkirk was carried with more than a two-thirds majority. When I subsequently sought a further suspension of standing orders to allow the ELS representatives to make their presentation, the executive, in light of the report on Falkirk, was not of a mind to hear them.
This hardly amounts to a "wrangle". The executive took the view that the defence of EIS members among the temporary staff at Falkirk and the defence of public education provision against those who would privatise it are overriding considerations on which the executive ought to base itself.
JOE EYRE President, College Lecturers' Association.