I write as the EIS FELA branch secretary at Shetland College, regarding the statutory ballot that is currently open for college lecturers, regarding our pay dispute. All workers need cost-of-living rises to enable their pay to keep up with rising living costs. Lecturers at Shetland College have not had a cost-of-living pay rise since 1April 2016.
EIS FELA, representing all college lecturers, put in a pay claim for 2017-18 in December 2016. Negotiations on this pay claim have ebbed and flowed, and finally stalled earlier this year. Strike action now seems the only way in which we can get the employers to re-open meaningful pay negotiations in order to seek an improvement on the employers’ ‘final offer’.
EIS FELA is simply asking the employers to provide a similar pay award for college lecturers as they have for college support staff – applying the public sector pay award. The employers’ current cost-of-living pay offer amounts to an extra 0.2 per cent on the pay bill in 2017-18, and an extra 0.8 per cent in 2018-19 – giving a derisory cost-of-living pay increase. Not only are these well below inflation, but they are also non-consolidated.
College lecturers are currently undergoing a pay harmonisation programme which effectively corrects the inequal pay for equal work that existed across the sector for over 20 years. Most lecturers’ salaries have gained as a result of this process – although many (in the better paid colleges) have not gained much at all in the last three years. Structural pay reform, which corrects unequal pay, is entirely different to cost-of-living pay rises.
As lecturers, despite the fact that we are part of the college sector, we have found ourselves having to fight in order to have equal pay, and now we are having to fight in order get the basic Scottish Government cost-of-living pay rise. This is unfortunate and not of our choosing – we would prefer concentrating all our energies on teaching students.
I hope this explains what is happening in our local college and what our national day of action on 5 December is about.
EIS FELA Branch Secretary