COLLEGE lecturers striking today for the fourth time in a dispute over pay are being urged to reconsider further action.

Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland - Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA) are demanding what they say is a fair cost of living increase, in line with public sector pay policy.

EIS-FELA said it has rejected what it says is a 2% increase offer over three years, and accused employers’ association Colleges Scotland of seeking to tear-up existing commitments on lecturers’ working conditions.

Lecturers at Paisley's West College Scotland are among those to have walked out for a fourth time this year. 

READ MORE: Classes suspended as West College Scotland lecturers get set for strike action

In a letter to lecturers, the Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association urges them to consider whether the “endless cycle of strikes” is in their best interests, or the interests of students or the college sector.

It said it has tabled eight offers trying to reach agreement in the 2017-20 pay dispute, and that the combined national average pay rise for lecturers over three years from harmonisation and the current pay offer is more than £5,000.

The eighth offer on the table is an £800 unconsolidated payment for years one and two with public sector pay policy in year three, applied as 3% for salaries up to £36,500 and 2% for salaries above £36,500, it said.

The letter states: “It is deeply regrettable that your EIS-FELA representatives have continually indicated to us that they will not reflect on nor consider the wider implications of strike action and the swingeing cuts to services and jobs that would be required to fund an even bigger increase for lecturers’ pay than is currently on the table.

“Any additional pay offer from colleges - what the EIS-FELA calls cost-of-living pay - is not coming from a funding allocation or budget, as you may have thought, but rather from cuts colleges must make.

“Our seventh offer already equates to cuts of £10.1 million, which a number of colleges have already informed us will be challenging for them and will lead to job losses and cuts to services. Colleges also have to find three per cent annual efficiency savings like other public bodies.

“If agreement is reached on the additional, eighth offer, then deeper cuts will have to be applied.”

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Larry Flanagan, EIS General Secretary, said it was a “disingenuous statement from Colleges Scotland, which continues to conflate harmonized equal pay with a cost of living pay rise”.

He added: “It also inaccurately portrays the steps the EIS has taken to keep its members fully informed throughout the dispute as well as the content of these communications.

“It is a blatant attempt by Colleges Scotland to bypass the proper collective bargaining process with trade unions via the National Joint Negotiating Committee.”

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