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COLLEGE lecturers north of the border formed picket lines today after rejecting a 12.2 per cent pay increase.
The Educational Institute of Scotland’s Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA) said the offer did not constitute a cost-of-living rise after a three-year wage freeze.
But SNP Education Secretary John Swinney told the Holyrood education committee that December’s budget contained funding for colleges to bring lecturers’ pay in line with other public-sector increases. He claimed that a cost-of-living increase was in fact being offered.
Labour education spokesman Iain Gray asked Mr Swinney about the pay dispute that triggered the strike and said: “In the college sector, there is no prospect of them finding additional resources for any cost-of-living increases for their staff.”
But Mr Swinney said: “Resources clearly are there because the employers have offered that.”
In December, members of two teaching unions voted nine to 10 in favour of the strike action, on a turnout of 52 per cent.
The dispute affects scores of further education institutions as well as some in the higher education sector, such as the University of the Highlands and Islands’s Perth College.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan urged Colleges Scotland to “return to meaningful negotiations, in the hope of agreeing a resolution to this dispute” and said: “Lecturers have been forced into this strike action by an intransigent management group that has refused to even attempt to reach a negotiated solution ahead of today’s strike.”
Colleges Scotland chief executive Shona Struthers claimed: “This offer on the table is the best overall pay rise for public-sector workers anywhere in the UK, but the EIS-FELA want even more.”
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