Thank you for contacting me about the ongoing industrial action by college lecturers across Scotland.
Members of EIS Further Education Lecturers Association have voted to engage in action short of a strike, which commenced at the beginning of May 2023.
This follows an earlier vote to reject a 2% pay rise, offered by employers late last year.
Scottish Labour supports the right of staff working in the further education sector to engage in industrial action in order to try and secure a fair pay offer from their employers.
This is the eighth time in nine years that college lecturers have had to commence industrial action and their concerns must be taken seriously.
College lecturers play a key role in delivering a high-quality educational experience for students in Scotland and equipping young people with the skills they need. These staff have, and will continue to be, essential to young people’s recovery from the impact of Covid-19 on their education. It is regrettable that they are once again being forced to fight for fair pay and better terms and conditions.
The college sector in is under severe pressure, and the Scottish Government have completely let them down.
The failure to deliver the promised £26m of additional funding promised to colleges in December 2022 amounts to a cut of £1m per college in Scotland. At a time where colleges are already cutting courses due to the financial pressures they face, this is a betrayal of students and staff.
My colleague Pam Duncan Glancy MSP, Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education, has raised the issue of inadequate government funding and the impact it is having on the college sector in Parliament, and will continue to push the SNP Government to do more to support the sector and enable this dispute to be resolved.
Scottish Labour will continue to engage with Trade Union representatives and support workers in colleges across Scotland as they fight for better pay, terms and conditions.
In the event that employers fail to deliver an improved offer, college lecturers have already voted for strike action to commence at the beginning of academic year 2023-24.
It is vital that employers come to the table with an improved offer as quickly as possible so that full strikes can be avoided, and the disruption being faced by students can be kept to a minimum.
The Scottish Government must do everything in its power to enable a solution which gives lecturers a fair pay deal. Every day they fail to do so, they are letting students and staff down.