Scotland

Lecturers say colleges declined strike talks

Lecturers in Aberdeen
Image caption Lecturers staged a strike on Thursday over pay and conditions

Striking college lecturers have accused their employers of not wanting to hold talks to settle the dispute.

The EIS union said Colleges Scotland had turned down two offers of a meeting this week.

Lecturers across Scotland went on strike on Thursday in a dispute over pay and conditions and another strike is set for next week.

Colleges Scotland said it had not declined any meeting requests and had offered to hold talks next week.

Members of the EIS Further Education Lecturers' Association want to see more action taken to end differences in pay between colleges.

Image caption Colleges Scotland said the strike was at a "critical time" for students

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: "Despite Colleges Scotland repeating loudly in the press that they are 'always willing to talk', it is clear that they currently have absolutely no interest in engaging in discussions with EIS negotiators to resolve this dispute.

"The EIS offered to meet Colleges Scotland on Thursday. They declined. The EIS offered to meet Colleges Scotland today (Friday). They declined, while also seeking to impose pre-conditions on any future talks.

"These are not the actions of an organisation that is keen to resolve a dispute."

A spokesperson for the Colleges Scotland Employers' Association said the task of scheduling a further meeting was still in progress.

"Contrary to the EIS's statements, no meeting requests have been declined," said the spokesperson.

"At this stage, we have offered meet on Tuesday 2 May to continue discussions."

The dispute is over ways of evening out differences in pay and conditions across the country.

Some lecturers earn several thousand pounds less than others doing similar jobs at other institutions.

An agreement after a one-day strike last year was meant to deal with this. But the EIS argues no progress has been made since then.

Union demands

Colleges Scotland believes it is impossible to separate the issue of pay from issues such as holiday entitlement and the length of time lecturers spend with students.

It believes the union's demands on these issues are unrealistic.

If the dispute is not settled, the union plans to gradually escalate industrial action.

By the middle of May, lecturers could be on strike for three days every week.

Further proposed strike dates are:

  • Wednesday 3 May
  • Tuesday 9 May and Thursday 11 May
  • Tuesday 16 May and Wednesday 17 May
  • Tuesday 23 May, Wednesday 24 May and Thursday 25 May
  • Tuesday 30 May, Wednesday 31 May and Thursday 1 June

Talks at the conciliation service Acas to try to settle the dispute broke up on Tuesday without agreement.

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