Socialist Worker

Build yes vote in Scotland as college pay ballot called

by Donny Gluckstein
Issue No. 2480

Lecturers at Scotland’s Further Education colleges are balloting for sustained strikes over pay in the New Year.

A well attended emergency conference of their EIS union on Friday of last week voted unanimously for the ballot. They want equal pay for lecturers across Scotland and to reverse years’ of declining income.

The main support staff union Unison is also balloting for action over the same issue.

The whole sector is in meltdown after enormous cuts, and loss of student places running into the hundreds of thousands.

The background to the dispute is the return of national bargaining after two decades of college by college collective bargaining.

The SNP government used this as the sole sweetener in its programme of mergers and funding reductions.

But college principals are doing their best to scupper bargaining from the outset.

Demand

They flatly refuse the demand of equalised pay. Some offer 1 percent, others insist this is “voluntary” and say they won’t pay anything.

Anger at the decline in the service, bullying managements and inadequate resources was palpable at the EIS conference. A Scottish parliamentary enquiry has exposed the vast sums paid to departing principals when college mergers took place.

One delegate likened them to a bunch of “Scottish Sepp Blatters”.

Colleges have put away £99 million in Arms Length Foundations, hold £214 million in historic surpluses, and there was a £163 million underspend on education last year. Workers’ claims would cost just £15 million to meet in full.

Further Education is the Scottish National Party’s dirty secret. This dispute will expose its phoney

anti-austerity rhetoric.

With Scottish elections looming, a solid campaign for a yes vote followed up by determined strikes would stand every chance of success. It will require an energetic campaign by union activists to make sure all members understand what is at stake.


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