Gavin Donoghue, director of College Employers Scotland, has hit out at the EIS-FELA for initiating strike action by lecturers – including some at Forth Valley College – from tomorrow.
With college finances already over stretched, he says strike action will not result in an increased pay offer.
Mr Donoghue said: “It is disappointing that the EIS-FELA has decided to strike despite being made an increased offer at negotiations two weeks ago.
"The original offer to lecturers included a £150 one-off payment, recognising their contributions during the pandemic and, along with the £850 consolidated payment in recognition of the work done throughout the pandemic, was a higher pay offer than that already made to and accepted by teachers, civil servants, police, fire service.
"This pay offer would ensure Scotland’s lecturers remain by far the best paid in the United Kingdom and continue enjoy the best terms and conditions in the four nations.
"In a final attempt to avert industrial action, College Employers Scotland offered an additional £50 to the one-off payment to stop strike action going ahead, which was rejected.
"Our offer is in fact beyond what colleges can afford, we have pushed our resources to the maximum because we value the work that lecturers do and wish to avoid further disruption to our students.
"Colleges are already in deficit by £5.7m and the sector is facing a real-terms cut in funding of £51.9m this autumn.
“Strike action will not result in an increased offer – there simply isn’t any more funding that colleges can put forward.
“I want to reassure students facing exams and assessments in the coming weeks that colleges are taking steps to ensure disruption is minimal and that every measure will be taken to support them during this incredibly important time in their lives.
"Our door remains open if the EIS-FELA negotiators wish to meet to discuss any practical, deliverable and affordable plans to end this disruptive and unnecessary dispute.”
Fourteen days of industrial action are planned – three in April with the first tomorrow and 11 in May.
As a result of the action, Forth Valley College has cancelled all full time, evening, apprenticeship programmes and school partnership provision tomorrow unless alternative arrangements have been put in place by individual departments with students contacted directly.
The college has said any interviews linked to 2022/23 recruitment planned for this first day of action will go ahead or will be rescheduled and the exam programme and commercial training courses will go ahead as planned.
The Learning Resource Centres, refectories and gyms will remain open, however the salons and the Gallery Restaurant at the Stirling campus will be closed.
Ken Thomson, principal of Forth Valley College, said: “Our aim is to minimise the impact on learning and teaching, wherever possible, and continue to deliver the best possible learning experiences for our students whilst a resolution is found for this national dispute.
"Our key priority is to ensure our students can complete their qualifications and move forward onto their next steps.”
Information for staff and students on the industrial action can be accessed here