Education / College lecturers take industrial action in escalating pay dispute

Further education sector dealt a blow as government withdraws extra funding

Members of the EIS-FELA union working at Shetland UHI are taking industrial action short of strike. Photo: Shetland News

LOCAL members of the EIS-Further Education Lecturers’ Association (FELA) union have joined their colleagues across the country in taking industrial action short of a strike in support of their 10 per cent pay demand for 2022/23.

Union members received a 94 per cent mandate to go ahead with industrial action following an initial pay offer of two per cent.

An increased offer of 3.5 per cent has also been rejected, as it falls short of what other public service workers have been offered, and is well below the current inflation rate.

Action short of strike means union members at Shetland UHI will be working to rule and will no longer carry out duties beyond what is stated in their contract.


The union assured students that their assessments will continue to be marked, students will receive the usual feedback and lecturers will keep a record of their result.

However, the marks will not be entered into college recording systems, until the pay dispute is resolved.

Local EIS-FELA branch secretary Andrew Anderson said: “It is important to stress that EIS-FELA members have taken the decision to pursue ASOS rather than strike action initially, as we sincerely hope that an agreement is reached on a fair pay award as soon as possible.

“If the action short of strike fails to produce a fair pay award, the EIS-FELA will consider escalating industrial action to include strike action to coincide with the new academic year in August.

“Clearly, this does not need to happen – our employers and the Scottish Government can act now to avoid it.”

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Anderson added that the pay dispute for the last financial year should have been settled a long time ago but was not due to the “employers not engaging in meaningful negotiation to reach a pay settlement”.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that Colleges Scotland, the representative body of the sector in Scotland, has to accept a £26 million cut in its budget for 2023/24 after the Scottish Government found it could not afford the additional funding it had previously agreed.

The decision to pull the extra funding, including £20 million to Scottish universities, has been widely condemned.

Chief executive of Colleges Scotland Shona Struthers said: “Colleges are deeply disappointed and dismayed by this U-turn from the Scottish Government.

“Removing the equivalent of £1million from each college is completely inexplicable – colleges are already cash strapped, making cuts to courses and winding down parts of their offer due to a lack of funding, not a lack of ambition from colleges or demand from students or employers.”


Lib Dems education spokesperson Willie Rennie added: “Colleges and universities already had ugly decisions to take to balance their budgets after funding reductions by the Scottish Government.

“This further cut won’t help them educate more people and ready them for our economy, which is desperate for skilled and educated workers.

“The SNP Government budget is clearly in such a chaotic state that they are pulling funds well into the financial year.  This is no way to run a government and no way to educate young people.”

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