Socialist Worker

Lecturers' action over pay can test SNP's anti-austerity image in Scotland

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2491

EIS-Fela members lobby the Scottish Funding Council last year

EIS-Fela members lobby the Scottish Funding Council last year (Pic: Richie Bisset)


The Scottish further education (FE) lecturers’ EIS-Fela union launched a strike ballot for equal pay last week.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) pledged to return national bargaining to Scotland’s colleges.

But 15 months after the first pay claim to address pay inequality across FE colleges, bosses want to impose a 1 percent rise.

Some colleges are not part of the ballot as bosses have tried to challenge national bargaining.

But the union has declared separate disputes at many of these workplaces.

EIS said the offer is “unacceptable” and would widen the current £7,000 a year pay gap for lecturers doing the same job in different colleges.

Donny Gluckstein is a lecturer at Edinburgh College where mass union meetings have taken place this week.

Imposed

He said, “One of the main points of anger is that pay is being imposed on us.

“This is just like what the Tories are doing to junior doctors in England.

“Why is the SNP letting colleges do the same to lecturers?”

The bosses’ organisation Colleges Scotland claims it “simply does not have access to additional funds to deliver more”. This is a lie.

They have squirreled away £99 million in Arms Length Foundations and hold £214 million in historic surpluses.

There was also a £163 million underspend on education last year.

In Glasgow alone two principals, a vice principal and a human resources director between them bagged well over £1 million in payoffs as a result of the SNP’s college mergers.

Workers’ claims would cost just £15 million to meet in full.

EIS members should vote yes to strike and force the SNP to get bosses to start toeing the line.


College workers in England gear up for a strike on 24 February

UCU and Unison union in members in colleges across England were set to strike over pay on Wednesday of next week.

They are fighting a zero percent pay deal.

The bosses’ Association of Colleges (AoC) said it was not “sustainable” to offer a pay rise for 2015-16.

Workers want a £1 an hour rise for all after suffering real terms pay cuts of 15 percent over the last five years.

The attacks on pay have come with a serious Tory assault on further education. The government has slashed funding and plans to impose mergers and closures.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that his message to college bosses and the government was for them to “get around the table now to avoid the strike”.

Next week’s strike comes as NUT union members in sixth form colleges ballot for strikes over cuts.

The union plans a strike and national demonstration on 15 March if workers vote yes.

Uniting these fights can build a strong campaign to defend education.

UCU London Region has called a conference on defending further and adult education for 5 March in London. Go to bit.ly/23SvXuY for details. Vote left in UCU elections. Go to bit.ly/1nXHOHY for details about the candidates

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