Lecturers at Lews Castle College have hit back at their employers organisation in the bitter row over pay which has been continuing since 2016.

And a further strike is expected on Wednesday March 6th - last strike picket line picture above.

Donald Macdonald, EIS FELA Branch Convener, and Billy Mackinnon, EIS FELA Branch Secretary, Lews Castle College UHI told welovestornoway.com:

“We hope you will allow us to introduce some facts to the report on your website this morning about the College Lecturers' dispute.

“This is the third period of strike action in the space of three years. In March 2016, our members came out on strike in response to Colleges Scotland’s failure to implement the Scottish Government’s policy on national bargaining.

“This was a one-day strike; the first national strike by lecturers for 23 years. Agreement was reached and no further strike action took place at that time.

“The following year, EIS FELA members were faced with Colleges Scotland’s refusal to implement the March 2016 settlement.

“This resulted in six days of strike action nationally. Colleges Scotland then agreed to implement the 2016 agreement.

“The 2016 and 2017 agreements have been implemented over a three-year period, with staged uplifts in pay – this process is to be completed in April 2019.”

Now the employers were claiming "The overall pay rise from harmonisation and the additional pay offer on the table represents a national average increase of £5,000 – or more than 12% for college lecturers."

The union representatives said that this was not true. “These are harmonisation payments. Averages mean nothing in this context. Some received nothing; others received large increases.” This just shows the enormous disparities in pay that existed in the past, they said.

The lecturers went on: “This process has been one of harmonisation to address the huge disparities in lecturers’ salaries. The spokesman for Colleges Scotland chooses to ignore that fact.

“Instead he emits disingenuous (at best) statements about pay rises that don’t exist and have never existed. Many lecturers received no increase through harmonisation.

“The truth, therefore, is this: there has been no increase in lecturers’ salary since April 2016. Colleges Scotland know this. However, they are determined to conflate the harmonisation process with annual cost-of-living increases.

“In so doing, they refuse to implement the Scottish Government’s public sector pay policy. That is why we are on strike now.

“Colleges Scotland’s spokesman continues to introduce irrelevancies. Job evaluation, class contact, annual leave and the entire package of terms and conditions are subject to negotiation.

“It's now likely that our members will be out on strike on Wednesday. We'll do this with heavy hearts, but we are determined to achieve a fair settlement to this needless dispute.

“The responsibility for the disruption caused to our students and to our community is entirely with Colleges Scotland. Quite why the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Mr Swinney, and the Minister for Education, Mr Richard Lochhead, are sitting on their hands in this situation is unclear. They are aware of the truth too but seem unwilling to get involved.”

Commenting on the EIS-FELA’s decision not to accept the latest offer, John Gribben, Director of Employment Services at Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association, said earlier:

 “Colleges have now made six offers to the EIS-FELA but, once again, they have decided not to accept a great deal. The overall pay rise from harmonisation and the additional pay offer on the table represents a national average increase of £5,000 – or more than 12% for college lecturers.

 “All of the money being offered for the additional pay offer has to come from colleges making cuts. The colleges’ previous offer cost £10.1 million, while the pay demand from the EIS-FELA would cost £14 million. Colleges have now made an improved offer costing £12.6 million, which more than meets the EIS-FELA’s demands in the middle, so it’s extremely disappointing that it hasn’t been accepted.

“In addition to these substantial pay rises, all lecturers’ terms and conditions have been improved or safeguarded, and they now have 62 days’ holiday each year, a reduction in class contact time to 23 hours per week, excellent pensions and a commitment from colleges to pay for those without formal qualifications to get their TQFEs in their normal working hours, but this still isn’t enough for the EIS-FELA.”