Socialist Worker

Scottish college lecturers step up strikes over jobs

by an EIS-Fela member
Issue No. 2751

 Forth Valley College pickets at the Stirling campus

Forth Valley College pickets at the Stirling campus (Pic: @eisforthvalley on Twitter)


Scottish college lecturers are upbeat as they stepped up their fight this week.

EIS-Fela union members struck on Tuesday and Wednesday to stop bosses replacing lecturers with instructors on lower pay and worse terms and conditions.

The plan is to escalate to a three-day strike on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday next week.

Talks with the bosses took place on Wednesday this week but resolved nothing.

Afterwards, the EIS-Fela union said, "The reinforcement (by Colleges Scotland bosses) of a position that has already been rejected is not meaningful discussion and therefore not a reason for consideration of suspending strike action.

"We cannot withdraw the national dispute with the issues still live. Neither can we do so on the basis of a proposal that does not address the issues that brought us here."

An online rally on Tuesday saw messages of support flooding in from EIS members, UCU union branches across Britain and other unions such as Unison.

John Kelly, the EIS-Fela national salaries convenor, stressed that workers are being rewarded for their crucial work during the pandemic with fire and rehire. “It’s not just at British Gas—or Brutish Gas as it should be called—but also in our colleges,” he said.

The dispute goes much wider than lecturers’ jobs. Gordon told the rally, “I have been in further education as a student over the past three years.

“And the support of lecturers at Forth Valley College has led to me gaining opportunities to work in further education myself. Any attempt to dilute the position of lecturer has to be resisted with everything we've got.

“All students going forward should have the same level of support and professionalism as those who have gone before.”

Message 

A clear message from the rally was that every candidate in the forthcoming Scottish elections must be pushed to declare which side they are on in this dispute.

A ballot for action short of strikes opened on Wednesday.

With most lecturers working from home during the pandemic, college bosses are dependent on their goodwill to do more work.

Strikers are beginning to break through the media blackout and are using the Scottish parliamentary elections to raise awareness. There has been coverage of the strike on Scottish TV channels and in the local and national press. Questions about the strike are popping up in hustings.

What’s at stake is whether lecturers on good terms and conditions stand in front of students or if a cut-price regime is all students can expect.

Solidarity messages and donations to our hardship fund are coming in. Every one of these can make a big difference.

For information on upcoming virtual pickets and national rallies, and to send donations and messages of support, please write to [email protected]

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