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College Employers Scotland Criticises Fresh Strike Action by UNISON and EIS-FELA


The national body for colleges as employers has criticised today’s strike for causing yet more disruption for students.

Members of the EIS-FELA and UNISON trade unions are due to take part in a one-day national strike later today (Thursday 29 February 2024), amid an ongoing dispute over pay.

The EIS-FELA, whose members are college lecturers, is also planning targeted strikes next month and has already launched a new boycott on entering student results.

College Employers Scotland (CES), which represents employers, has offered the EIS-FELA and support staff trade unions (UNISON, Unite and GMB) a £5,000 consolidated pay rise for all college staff over three academic years. This pay offer has already been overwhelmingly accepted by the GMB and Unite trade unions.

The employers’ pay offer is set against a background of fresh funding cuts of £32.7 million, or 4.7%, now MSPs have passed the Scottish Government’s Budget for 2024/25. Figures from the Auditor General also show that government funding for colleges has already dropped by 8.5% in real terms since 2021/22.

Gavin Donoghue, CES Director, said:

“Colleges have plans in place to try and mitigate the impact of today’s strike, and it is expected that the vast majority of colleges will remain open today. However, it is deeply regrettable that students are, once again, facing disruption to their learning due to industrial action taken by the EIS-FELA and UNISON.

“Today’s strike and other industrial action, like the resulting boycott, will not lead to an improved pay offer to trade unions. Colleges simply cannot offer to give what they do not have, especially when government funding is set to fall by nearly 5% in 2024/25.

“Despite unprecedented financial pressures, colleges have put forward a substantial pay offer which, if accepted by trade unions, would keep college lecturers in Scotland as the UK’s best paid. For support staff, the same offer would mean an average pay rise of nearly 16% from September this year.

“The employers’ full and final pay offer has already been overwhelmingly accepted by Unite and GMB members. We urge EIS-FELA and UNISON to cancel their industrial action and follow the example of their fellow trade unions by putting the pay offer to their members in a ballot.” 

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