Comment on the EIS-FELA Consultative Ballot

Gavin Donoghue, Director of College Employers Scotland, said: “It is disappointing that the EIS-FELA has decided to open a consultative ballot for industrial action during live pay negotiations.

“The EIS-FELA pay claim of a £5,000 increase for all lecturers is unaffordable for the college sector as it would increase a lecturer’s starting salary by over 14% to more than £40,000 a year, at a time when colleges are facing severe cost pressures.

“Once National Insurance and pension contributions are taken into account, the EIS-FELA pay claim would cost colleges an additional £37m a year. But right now, colleges are already having to reduce costs through voluntary redundancy schemes to cope with current budget cuts.

“Colleges in Scotland are proud of the fact that their lecturers have the best pay and terms and conditions of any lecturers across the UK. Nevertheless, employers genuinely empathise with the cost-of-living pressures staff are facing, and are already putting in place as much support as they can. However, colleges themselves are facing the same inflationary pressures, particularly with a spike in energy costs of around £15m across the sector.

“Increased costs on pay and energy come at a time when the college sector is already absorbing a multi-million pound real-terms funding cut this year, and is facing a flat cash budget going forward. Within this severely constrained financial environment, colleges have a duty to protect the world-class learning opportunities provided for their students.

“College Employers Scotland continues to speak to government to seek additional funding for staff pay claims, and our offer to work jointly with EIS-FELA on this matter remains open.”

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