By Donny Gluckstein
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College lecturers in Scotland throw out pay offer and should now prepare for action

This article is over 5 years, 8 months old
Issue 2624
Lecturers in Scotland celebrating victory after winning equal pay last year
Lecturers in Scotland celebrating victory after winning equal pay last year (Pic: Duncan Brown)

Further Education lecturers in Scotland have voted by 90 percent, on a 60 percent turnout, to reject management’s pay offer in an indicative ballot.

This follows on from a strike victory last year which brought equal pay for all lecturers in Scotland to the level of the highest paid college.

The lecturers’ ballot is a rejection of falling living standards.

The management side produced a very complicated offer designed to divide and confuse.

It amounted in the end to just 2.5 percent in total for three years (2016-19), or less than one percent per year.

With inflation now at least 2.7 percent a year, to have accepted that offer would have meant agreeing to a pay cut. We should not accept that our pay packets should shrink in real terms.

Our managements are always pleading poverty and tight government spending. But principals and senior managers have had massive pay hikes.

It is true the Scottish government spends too little on further education, which provides a vital service for young people.

But when lecturers stand firm the government has had to find the money necessary.

The way the ballot was won has lessons for trade unionists. Now that the Tory anti-union legislation, with its 50 percent turnout threshold, is in place ballots need to be carefully organised and built for.

Detailed work on the ground is the key to success. College activists were armed with masses of publicity material.

Membership lists were brought up to date and meetings were held across the country.

One-to-one conversations were had in staffroom after staffroom.

After the ballot result EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said, “We hope that this clear rejection by lecturers will cause management to think again and return with an improved offer.”

If there isn’t an offer to protect and enhance pay the union should move to a full strike ballot—and action.

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