Socialist Worker

Scottish further education lecturers ready for battle

by Donny Gluckstein
Issue No. 2736

EIS further education members won in 2017

EIS further education members won in 2017 (Pic: Duncan Brown)

Further Education lecturers in the Scottish teaching union, EIS, have voted decisively to oppose college managements' attempts to replace them with instructors.

In one college lecturers were sacked and the new grades brought in to do their jobs directly.

In another, lecturers were told their jobs had gone but they could “reapply” for new instructor posts.

Local industrial action short of a strike is already taking place at Forth Valley College. But it is clear the bosses plan to extend such practices across Scotland’s 26 FE colleges.

Only national action can stop the rot.

Instructors teach every hour of the working day without preparation and marking time. They take on this massive workload for a much lower wage, and fewer holidays.

It is a recipe for disaster. Many are already off sick with stress, and their students receive an inferior education.

With rising unemployment, a quality further education service has never been more essential.


EIS lecturers have won national ballots and successfully struck three times in the last five years. This has partly motivated managements' move towards hiring cheaper substitutes.

But there is a mood for resistance. The recent indicative ballot achieved a 72 percent turnout.

It saw 86 percent back strikes and 93 percent support action short of strike.

The result is all the more impressive because it was won under Covid-19 conditions.

Most lecturers are working from home ruling out standard methods of winning the vote—face to face branch meetings, leaflets, posters and staffroom conversations.

Forth Valley college lecturers start action as wider clash looms
Forth Valley college lecturers start action as wider clash looms
  Read More

The determination of the lecturers is clear and a statutory ballot will follow soon.

In previous disputes the politicians stepped in to avoid the embarrassment of major strikes.

Scottish elections take place on 6 May and the EIS executive is considering a plan for escalating strikes timed to peak then.

The SNP government prides itself on a professional education service. But it will find it hard to stand by as a major part of the education system is trashed to save a few pounds. Strikes will get that message across to the public loud and clear.

  • EIS school teachers in four local authority areas may also be moving towards action.

In Glasgow, Fife, Edinburgh and West Dunbartonshire they have overwhelmingly voted to declare a formal dispute with their employers over failure to provide a safe working environment during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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