College strike called off for further pay talks

college lecturers strike
Image caption Lecturers have already taken part in four one-day strikes

A planned shut down of Scotland's colleges on Wednesday has been called off ahead of more talks between unions and education leaders.

Lecturers were set to walk out for the fifth time in a row over pay and conditions.

But the EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan has called the action off ahead of further talks with umbrella body Colleges Scotland.

Mr Flanagan said he was hopeful for "positive movement".

The EIS is unhappy with the cost-of-living pay rise on offer - a 2% consolidated rise covering three years.

But colleges say many lecturers have also had big rises because of a scheme to equalise pay across the country.

'Constructive dialogue'

The EIS-Further Education Lecturers' Association (EIS-FELA) will meet with Colleges Scotland on Thursday.

Mr Flanagan said: "We welcome the constructive dialogue around pay which took place with Colleges Scotland and hope that this positive movement will continue when we meet again on Thursday.

"The FELA executive has acknowledged its commitment to continuing negotiation and resolving this pay dispute by the suspension of the strike action planned for this week."

Four one-day strikes have already taken place and three more days of disruption were scheduled for May.

John Gribben, director of employment services at the employers' association of Colleges Scotland, welcomed the decision.

He added: "While we are moving closer to reaching a deal, we recognise there is more work to be done.

"Colleges have made a further improved financial offer to the EIS-FELA subject to agreement on terms and conditions. We believe lecturers would accept the deal and have asked the EIS-FELA to take our offer to its members for approval.

"Lecturers in Scotland are by far the best paid in the UK, and the pay harmonisation rises from 2017 to 2020, combined with the improved pay offer on the table from colleges, equate to a national average increase of well over £5,000 - or more than 12%."