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Education / More college strike action as staff walk out in national pay dispute

UHI Shetland lecturers went last on strike as part of the same pay dispute at the end of February. Photo: Jim Mullay

LECTURERS in Shetland are undertaking strike action today (Thursday) as part of a wider national pay dispute.

UHI Shetland said the action from the EIS-FELA union is expected to affect many classes.

A picket line is in place at UHI Shetland’s Lerwick campus this morning.

The national action is being undertaken by EIS-FELA and Unison. There is also set to be a demonstration at the Scottish Parliament.

Local EIS-FELA branch secretary Andrew Anderson said lecturing staff in Scotland have not had a pay increase since September 2021.

He added that UHI Shetland staff have been advised that management do not anticipate that strike action will result in an increased pay offer as there is no funding available.

“Whether the employer’s side like it or not, the fact of the matter is that both Unison and EIS-FELA members have voted clearly to show they are not willing to accept the current pay offer – and like all disputes it will not be resolved until both sides meet and accept further negotiation is required,” Anderson said.

“The employer’s side is currently not willing to meet the union negotiators and this stance is having an ongoing detrimental impact on students – we would urge employers to change their mindset to ensure the dispute is resolved as quickly as possible.”

College Employers Scotland, which represents the employers, also said strike action will not lead to an improved pay offer.

Director Gavin Donoghue said: “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 per cent in 2024/25.

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“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.”

UHI Shetland said in a statement: “Unless advised otherwise by your lecturer, all scheduled remote or in person classes will be cancelled on Thursday 29 February.

“We anticipate that our school partnership students will attend campus as normal.

“The campuses will remain open and the Lerwick library will be open with the Scalloway library being closed. Study spaces with computer access and quiet study spaces will be made available for students who wish to be on campus.

“Student support services will be available both remotely and on campus too.

“We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience that this disruption may cause.”

College staff also undertook industrial action last year, including a strike.

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