Matt Crilly, NUS Scotland President

NUS Scotland comments on avoidable college strike action 

Strike action in colleges across Scotland is set to begin today (25th March 2021), over a dispute between EIS-FELA and Colleges Scotland over the replacement of lecturers with instructor assessor positions.

EIS-FELA agreed to ratify the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC) Agreement, which (with the associated NJNC Circular) would have resolved the dispute and stopped the programme of strike action. Colleges Scotland, however, failed to do the same.

Commenting on the strikes Matt Crilly, NUS Scotland President, said:

“College students have had a raw deal this year, so it comes as a major blow that college management has walked away from a joint agreement, causing thousands of more students to be disrupted by strike action.

“NUS Scotland shares the concerns raised by EIS-FELA and are deeply disappointed by the moves of some colleges to replace our lecturers with less qualified instructor assessors, which undoubtedly will lead to a cut to the quality of our education.

“When some college students are already at risk of not completing their courses this year, we need college bosses to put students and staff first, return to the joint agreement and avoid even more disruption to our learning."

A spokesperson for the Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association said:

“Today’s action by the EIS-FELA is extremely disappointing after what has already been a very difficult and challenging year for staff and students across Scotland.   The EIS-FELA is breeching national agreed protocols by taking unnecessary industrial action whilst meaningful discussions are still ongoing.

“The request to suspend the strike while talks continue was refused by the EIS-FELA on Tuesday. 

“The strike action is taking place because the EIS-FELA has claimed colleges are trying to replace lecturer posts with less qualified and less well paid staff.  This simply isn’t true. 

“In our discussions, the EIS-FELA has agreed that there is no national plan to replace lecturers with other roles like tutors, assessors or instructors.  We also both agree that all roles in colleges, whether they be lecturing or support staff, are valuable and that each role is distinct.

“There is one detail left on the table for discussion, and the employers want to make sure that the final agreement recognises the complex and professional nature of the job that lecturers do.  Colleges also need to be confident that the solution doesn’t have a negative impact on support staff, because we have a duty of care to the whole workforce.

“This is extremely disappointing after what has already been a very difficult year for students.

“We hope that the ongoing discussions lead to a positive outcome.”

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