West Lothian College staff vote in favour of industrial action
EIS members at West Lothian College have voted in favour of action short of strike over the introduction of new Instructors posts which are now being used to replace Lecturing jobs.
In the ballot, which closed today, 87 percent of participating members voted for action short of strike, with a turnout of 54 percent.
A national dispute on this general issue is believed to already be underway with a first day of strike action to take place on March 25.
Lecturers across Scotland are striking to defend their profession and the integrity of an FE system based on lecturers delivering lectures.
It is understood that West Lothian College, together with Forth Valley College, are the two colleges at the forefront of seeking to replace work done by lecturers with instructors.
The West Lothian College ballot will mean that members in the college will take additional action to resolve their own dispute around the college’s recent introduction of instructors, in addition to any action undertaken as part of the national college dispute.
West Lothian College branch secretary, Laura Murray said, “We are angry and disappointed that we are having to take action to protect our profession during a year that has had lecturers working around the clock to provide quality education to students under the difficult conditions that a global pandemic has brought. We hope that the management will reconsider their position and we will continue to seek a resolution, but this ballot result shows that staff are more than prepared to take the necessary action to defend our livelihoods and our students’ right to a quality education.”
The EIS believes that the growing introduction of Instructor posts is a retrograde step for the profession and for students. They say that the new roles are, in general, lower paid, with more class contact hours, less time for preparation, and reduced annual leave for staff.
West Lothian College management have refused to continue negotiating throughout the last year, which they had agreed to do previously.
They have also continued to increase the numbers of Instructor posts employed. This is despite the legitimate dispute and concerns raised by EIS-FELA college lecturers in West Lothian.
The EIS union also warns that the move will impact the quality of education on offer to college students. The new roles do not require staff to hold a teaching qualification or General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS) registration.
EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “The introduction of Instructors at West Lothian College undermines the lecturers and student experience at West Lothian College. It is clear that these changes are about cutting costs – no matter the impact on the quality of education. Our members at West Lothian College have shown that they are deeply concerned that the role of college lecturers is under threat in their college. The ballot result is a clear mandate for industrial action. It is not too late for the college to avoid action, but they need to act now to resolve the dispute.”