Further education lecturers across Scotland were set to strike on Wednesday this week over pay.
The members of the EIS union had voted by 90 percent for action on a 52 percent turnout.
The employers hoped to claw something back after lecturers’ all-out action in 2017 won equal pay across the sector.
Managers argue lecturers deserve much less than the cost of living rises they have taken for themselves. The employers’ offer is a “rise” of just 2.5 percent spread over three years—far less than anticipated inflation and therefore a pay cut.
Bosses in Colleges Scotland had refused to meet with EIS negotiators until after the first strike day—and then on Monday cancelled this scheduled meeting.
The EIS has given notice of three further days of strikes on Tuesday 5 February, Wednesday 6 March and Thursday 21 March.
There is a potential for action by school teachers over pay as well. The EIS council last Saturday decided to give formal notice to employers of a strike ballot of school teachers later this month. EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said, “Teachers’ patience is now exhausted. We are prepared to take strike action.”
Around 30,000 school teachers—out of a workforce of around 50,000—marched in Glasgow last year in what was one of the biggest single union marches in Scotland ever.
They then voted by 98 percent on a 74 percent turnout in an indicative ballot to reject a pay offer which would have seen rises heading towards 5 percent.
Teachers are demanding a rise of 10 percent to partially make up for a cut of 24 percent since 2008.
School teachers will need to make sure that they are not fobbed off by offers in the pipeline that will fail to meet their justified demands.
The union leaders will need to be pushed to ensure that the strength of feeling that campaigning has created in schools, is not wasted.
And if there are strikes they will need to be ambitious enough to break through the resistance of the employers and bring success.
There is a wider feeling over pay. The Unite union announced last week it is recommending rejection of the pay offer in Scottish local government, but Unison leaders are calling for acceptance.
Action by lecturers and school teachers together could really shake the Scottish government and be an inspiration to others.