College lecturers to strike after failed pay offer

The strike at Edinburgh College will build from once a week to three days a week. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The strike at Edinburgh College will build from once a week to three days a week. Picture: Ian Georgeson

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LECTURERS at the Capital’s new super-college are to go on strike after Scotland’s largest teaching union voted “overwhelmingly” to reject a proposed pay rise.

Walkouts are set to take place at Edinburgh College’s main campuses – hitting around 35,000 students – after nearly 92 per cent of staff registered with the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) opted to knock back the three per cent salary boost.

Leaders of the union’s emergency committee have sanctioned a series of strikes, starting with February 6 next week, two days the following week and three days a week after that.

Mike Cowley, of the college’s EIS branch, said: “We do not relish the prospect of strike action, and are grateful for the vocal support of the Edinburgh College Students’ Association, MSPs and support staff.

“However, given the 13 per cent depletion in the value of our incomes over the last three years of stagnant wages, the board’s current offer does not meet the modest expectations of our members.”

He added: “Many of the college’s operational systems are currently dysfunctional.

“This vote reflects not only a rejection of the pay and conditions offer, but is also an expression of discontent at the record of the executive management’s time in office.”

The prospect of strike action has sparked concern among student leaders, who said it was “vital” that lecturers are paid a “fair wage”.

Kelly Parry, president of Edinburgh College Students’ Association, said: “The college and EIS simply must work out a deal as a matter of urgency. Disruption to students must be kept to an absolute minimum.”

An Edinburgh College spokeswoman said: “We urge EIS members to take into account the needs of the students and reconsider strike action. In the current climate, our offer is a fair one, giving a three per cent pay deal and a reduction in teaching hours per year.

“A fundamental element of the offer is flexibility so lecturers can occasionally cover for colleagues who are sick to avoid classes being cancelled. This offer is the most we can afford to ensure the sustainability of the college and protect jobs.”