Socialist Worker

Scottish college lecturers strike—and teachers set for strike ballot

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2644

The strike rally in Glasgow

The strike rally in Glasgow (Pic: Dave Sherry)


College workers across Scotland held their third one-day strike over pay on Wednesday.

Members of the EIS-FELA union are demanding a “fair cost of living pay rise” after being offered only 2 percent over three years.

This latest action follows 24-hour strikes in January and February.

EIS-FELA President Pam Currie said, “Scotland’s College lecturers have, once again, shown their determination to make a stand in pursuit of a fair pay settlement. Yet the response of management has been to label us ‘greedy’ and ‘unrealistic’.”

Annette Wilson, tweeting from the Arbroath campus of Dundee & Angus College said, “It's about more than just the cost of living pay rise. Management are now trying to unpick terms and conditions and undermine national bargaining agreements.”

These new attacks include trying to revisit the existing agreement about transfer to permanent jobs for staff on temporary contracts. This was ratified in November 2017 but bosses now want to rip it up. 

Many strikers want the Scottish government to intervene to force college bosses to back off. Ayrshire College EIS-FELA members said, "We feel ignored, lied to, treated with contempt by Colleges Scotland and the Employers' Association. What is the real agenda? Get involved Nicola Sturgeon."

Strikers held demonstrations in Glasgow and Elgin.

Lecturers are set for further strikes. And in an escalation of the dispute, the EIS has also opened a statutory ballot on industrial action short of strike.

Action

Should members vote in favour of it, the escalating action will include a boycott of college results systems and a withdrawal of goodwill.

This action is designed to run alongside the programme of strikes.

The college workers' strike came the day after a strike vote was announced for Scottish school teachers.

It follows a ballot in which 57 percent of those voting rejected the latest pay offer and backed a move to a strike ballot, on a turnout of 81 percent.

Protesting in Elgin

Protesting in Elgin (Pic: @tweetingteach on Twitter)


The ballot is scheduled to open on Monday and will run for three and a half weeks. The EIS Executive also agreed Wednesday 24 April as a date for the first potential day of strikes.

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said, “The 81 percent turnout in our consultative ballot was quite remarkable and is a strong confirmation that it is our members who are making the decisions in this campaign.

“The EIS, which represents 80 percent of the profession, will continue to campaign for an improved pay offer for Scotland’s teachers.”

Teacher Charlotte Ahmed told Socialist Worker, “The argument for strikes is new to many EIS members. The last time there was a national teaching strike in Scotland was under Margaret Thatcher.

“It’s good the ballot has been called but there will need to be a concerted effort by activists to win the vote nationally.

“But around 30,000 school teachers marched in Glasgow last year. It shows that there is a mood to fight over pay.”

If teachers and college lecturers struck together it would be a powerful move.


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