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Education / Teaching union calls off Wednesday’s college strike

But two further strikes days are planned for next week

Shetland College lecturers during one of the previous strike days. Photo: Peter Johnson/Shetland News

A PLANNED strike by lecturers at Shetland College on Wednesday has been called off as national negotiations over pay progress.

A number of strikes at Scotland’s colleges have taken place over the last couple of months in a dispute over a cost of living pay increase but there are now hopes a deal may be reached on Thursday.

The row involves EIS-Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA) and Colleges Scotland.

Discussions have been ongoing and EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said that Wednesday’s strike had been called off as an “acknowledgement of the progress made and with a view to supporting further successful dialogue”. Action short of strike, however, will continue.

National strike action is still planned for 15 and 16 May.

Local branch secretary for EIS-FELA Andrew Anderson said “we are very pleased that progress has been made with the pay negotiations”.

“Lecturing staff at Shetland College do not want to be on strike and do not want to take action that affects students but we have been left with no alternative in support of a fair cost of living increase,” he continued.

“It is clear that the withdrawal of goodwill is having an impact, with staff not working evenings, weekends and lunchtimes resulting in delays to such areas as marking assessments, a lack of time for developing course materials and a lack of time to prepare for external verification visits.”

Anderson said it was important to emphasise that the “harmonisation of salary scales for all lecturing staff across Scotland has now been fully implemented” and should not be conflated with a cost of living increase.

He added that the EIS-FELA pay claim is currently four per cent, covering the three-year period from 2017-2020.

Anderson clarified that “class contact time for Shetland College lecturing staff has not reduced, as stated by Colleges Scotland”.

He said for new staff class contact hours of 23 hours a week is an increase on previous local agreements.

Director of employment services at Colleges Scotland John Gribben said “while we are moving closer to reaching a deal, we recognise there is more work to be done”.

“Colleges have made a further improved financial offer to the EIS-FELA subject to agreement on terms and conditions,” he added.

“We believe lecturers would accept the deal and have asked the EIS-FELA to take our offer to its members for approval.”