Scotland politics

College lecturers and bosses agree deal to halt strikes

college strike
Image caption College lecturers on strike outside the Scottish Parliament during the dispute

College lecturers have called off planned strike action after talks with employers ended with a deal.

It brings to an end the most serious strike in Scottish education since the long-running teachers' dispute in the 1980s.

The staff were angry that a deal on pay differences between colleges had not been fully implemented.

The "breakthrough" means that a three-day strike set for next week will now not go ahead.

Union leaders had warned the strikes would continue "for as long as necessary", unless a deal was reached.

'Significant victory'

But a joint statement from both the EIS and College Scotland said the strikes had been suspended after agreement had been reached following "intensive negotiations".

The statement said: "Colleges Scotland and the EIS welcomed this breakthrough and are delighted that disruption to student learning has been brought to an end."

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan hailed the deal as a "significant victory".

He said: "Colleges Scotland have agreed to Honour the Deal. This is a significant victory and it means employers will move immediately to implement Phase 1 of the March 2016 pay agreement. As a result, all future planned strike action is suspended".

Commenting after the talks with the EIS, a spokeswoman for the Colleges Scotland Employers' Association said: "We are pleased that we've reached an agreement, subject to ratification, which not only means an end to the strikes but also, crucially, ensures that colleges can return to business as usual. This is a positive step forward for everyone involved."

Earlier this week Education Secretary John Swinney intervened in the dispute, amid fears it would affect the exam performance.

He welcomed the settlement, saying it would be good for students.

He said: "Having put in place arrangements to allow for national bargaining, it has always been the case that resolution of this issue lay in the hands of employers and the union.

"The immediate suspension of next week's strike action will be very welcome news for students and the wider agreement reached today will allow Scotland's colleges to focus on delivering the high-quality education the sector is known for."

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