Edinburgh College staff want industrial action

Edinburgh College staff are expected to begin industrial action. Picture: Toby Williams
Edinburgh College staff are expected to begin industrial action. Picture: Toby Williams
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STAFF at Edinburgh College were today expected to begin industrial action in a row over the roles of lecturers and overtime payments.

Several lecturers, instructors and other staff will work-to-rule, according to union leaders.

The action amid claims that since the merger of the Capital’s colleges, management have refused to take the concerns of the workforce seriously.

The Educational Institute for Scotland has now called on college management to hold talks to end the row after 91.7 per cent of members at Edinburgh College who voted in the ballot backed industrial action.

In a report produced by the union, 13 reasons are given to explain its dispute with the college.

Failure of management teams from both the college and the EIS to work together and failure to consult over curriculum changes are among the issues highlighted.

The union also claims that changes to the student application system have been made which may jeopardise recruitment in the next academic year.

Lecturers are set to take classes as normal during the work-to-rule, but will refuse to work outwith their contracted hours and duties.

The report by the EIS branch stated: “There has been a failure to accept established lecturer work roles, and an attempt to add additional duties without discussion or agreement with the EIS branch.”

It is also alleged that lecturers’ rights under the Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations – a body which was designed to protect employees against unfair treatment as a result of a transfer of their employment following the college merger – have been ignored.

A spokesman from the EIS said: “This ballot of EIS members at Edinburgh College had a solid turnout and resulted in an overwhelming vote in favour of industrial action.

“This result has now been communicated to the college, and the EIS will release further information in due course.”

A spokesman for Edinburgh College said it was keen to hold talks to avoid any further industrial action, such as staff strikes.

He pointed out that 209 of the 228 EIS members who voted backed industrial action – just 14 per cent of the total college workforce.

He said: “We’re disappointed that the union members have agreed to work to contract and we’ll make every effort to minimise any potential impact on students’ learning.

“We know the majority of our staff are dedicated to making sure students get the best education possible and they won’t have taken this decision lightly, but this action could be detrimental to learning.

“College management have regular meetings with both our trade unions where we attempt to resolve issues as they arise and we will continue dialogue towards resolving this matter.

Arran McMillan, vice-president of Edinburgh College Students’ Association, said: “Millions of pounds of government cuts over the last few years have left the college in a very difficult situation and it’s the students who always suffer the most.

“It’s vital that EIS and college management find a way to communicate and work out their differences.

“If they don’t, it’s the students who will get caught in the middle once again.”