Socialist Worker

Lecturers in ballot for strikes in Scotland as college boss’s payoff provokes outrage

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2492

EIS members lobby the Scottish Funding Council last year

EIS members lobby the Scottish Funding Council last year (Pic: Richie Bissett)


Lecturers in the EIS-Fela Scottish teachers’ and lecturers’ union are balloting for a national strike. They are demanding equal pay and fighting the imposition of a previously rejected offer.

Bosses claim there is no money.

But the £15 million needed to settle the claim could easily be met by using some of the £99 million bosses have squirreled away in Arms Length Foundations. These are private trusts where colleges hide cash.

Or it would take a fraction of the £214 million that colleges hold in historic surpluses.

Meanwhile, pay for bosses and senior managers in the Scottish education system is growing out of control.

Cuts

Millions have been paid out to former college bosses while massive cuts to students, staff and courses have been driven through at the behest of the Scottish National Party government.

A former college principal could face legal action if he doesn’t hand back some of the six-figure payoff he received as a result of the merger of New Lanarkshire College.

John Doyle trousered £304,000—way above official guidelines—after losing his job at Coatbridge College when it merged with two other colleges in 2013.

The Scottish Funding Council (SFC) has asked him to repay around a third of the money. The payment was slammed as “an appalling abuse of the public purse” by a parliamentary audit committee.

Doyle was handed the equivalent of 21 months of his £116,000 a year salary, plus a three-month bonus for overseeing the merger and six months in lieu of notice. This is obscene, but the norm is not much better.

And Doyle’s scheme may just be the tip of the iceberg. It has been suggested that the government was so keen to push through the merger of colleges across the country that it may have set up similar “packages” to grease the wheels.

EIS members are right to strike and should vote yes in the ballot, which closes on 4 March.


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