College lecturers across Scotland have voted overwhelmingly for industrial action in a dispute over the non-delivery of a pay agreement that was reached almost exactly one year ago.

The consultative ballot of members of the EIS Further Education Lecturers’ Association closed on Friday 10 March, with 97% of lecturers backing industrial action, on a turnout of 64%.

The pay agreement reached last year standardizes pay and conditions for lecturers across Scotland, giving unionized workers more clout in their negotiating power. The agreement was won by taking industrial action, but now the employers are dragging their feet when it comes to implementation of the agreement. As the result of the ballot shows, the mood among the lecturers is militant and they’re ready to fight to consolidate last year’s victory.

EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “Scotland’s Further Education lecturers have been extremely patient in waiting for college management to deliver on their pay commitments, but that patience is now exhausted. After a year of dragging their feet, it is time for Scotland’s colleges to make good their promises to lecturers on fair and equal pay.”

The proposed strike action is the right move to make. Clearly the employers can’t be trusted to keep their promises – it’s up to us to remind them that it’s the workers who hold real power in society. Without us, colleges won’t open, so the least we can expect is for management to honour their commitments to us. The EIS should look to mobilizing all education workers in Scotland in defence of FE lecturers. And the union should look for solidarity from workers in other sectors and across the border in England and Wales.

This kind of cross-sector, cross-border solidarity won’t be difficult to build because what’s happening in Scotland’s FE sector is just one example of the pressure that public services are coming under. A united effort across different sectors to fight the root cause of the squeeze on pay and conditions is the best chance we have of building decent, free public services. EIS should think big and see this dispute as a springboard to building a broader industrial struggle.

by Marxist Student Federation

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