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College employers urge the EIS-FELA to let its members have a say on pay

College employers have urged the EIS-FELA trade union to let its members vote on a pay offer, as figures suggest only around a quarter of lecturers are turning out for strikes.

It comes after fresh talks today (Friday 21 June 2024) in which College Employers Scotland (CES), the national body for colleges as employers, sought agreement on a proposed 3% pay rise for the 2025/26 academic year. This builds on the full and final £5,000 pay offer already tabled for 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2024/25, and which the EIS-FELA now includes within its own four-year pay claim.

The employers’ new offer would deliver substantial salary increases, with an unpromoted lecturer at the start of the national pay scale seeing their salary rise to over £41,000 from September next year. Pay for a lecturer at the top of the unpromoted scale would jump to nearly £50,000.

The 3% proposal from employers is also ahead of the Scottish Government’s Public Sector Pay Policy (PSPP) for 2025/26, which recommends a stepped increase of 2% for nine months of the year, followed by an additional 1% in the final three months - or an average, in-year pay rise of 2.25%.

Comparisons across the four years show that unpromoted lecturers would be well over £2,000 better off under the employers’ pay offer than they would be under PSPP.

The EIS-FELA, meanwhile, has called on its members to take part in an expanded national strikes programme until the end of June. The trade union has also launched a fresh industrial action ballot that could lead to strikes and Action Short of Strike, including a resulting boycott, recommencing in August.

However, statistics from colleges show that participation in recent walkouts has been falling sharply. Just 25.9% of lecturers joined the national strike on 14 June 2024 - down from 29.7% on Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 June. A Scotland-wide walkout on 29 February 2024 saw 39% of lecturers turn out, while the figure on 7 September 2023 was 47%.

Gavin Donoghue, Director of CES, said: “Employers have proposed a four-year pay award worth an average of almost £6,500 and which keeps Scotland’s college lecturers as the best paid in the UK. After almost two years of industrial action, it is high time that the EIS-FELA leadership let their members have a say on pay.

“The employers offer is for £5,000 across three years and an additional 3% pay increase for 2025/26. This latest offer has been tabled amid unprecedented financial strains for colleges and employers have taken a leap of faith by agreeing to negotiate a pay claim for 2025/26.

“With the pay dispute now essentially over a pay award which would not be due until September 2025, people will be rightly confused and frustrated that the EIS-FELA is choosing to jeopardise students’ futures through industrial action in June 2024.

“Employers want to get pay rises into lecturers’ pockets as soon as possible, especially as the summer holiday period approaches. The quickest way for this to happen is for the EIS-FELA to ballot its members on the fair and substantial pay offer which is on the table.

“It is clear that the vast majority of Scotland’s college lecturers have little enthusiasm for strikes. Therefore, employers urge the trade union to suspend all industrial action, including the resulting boycott, while any ballot of their members is held.”


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