Forth Valley College lecturers ballot for strike

EIS members at Forth Valley College (FVC) are balloting for industrial action after the college made 30 lecturers’ posts “redundant” to replace them with new “instructor assessor” posts.

According to the union, the new posts are lower paid, with more class contact hours, little or no preparation time and reduced annual leave.

The EIS believes with these proposals the college is “looking for a cheaper way to deliver lecturers’ work”.

FVC management said any strike action would be “an attack on learners”.

Lecturers at Forth Valley College are balloting to go out on strike

The union has also warned the move will undermine professional standards. Instructor assessor roles will have no requirement to gain a teaching qualification or to comply with the professional standards for lecturers in Scotland which are currently being developed by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (GTCS).

So far, the college’s proposals have targeted lecturers in vocational education, including hairdressing, construction, engineering and care. Many workers have accepted new posts “under protest” and some have accepted voluntary redundancy.

In a consultative ballot conducted earlier this month, 91 per cent of members voted for industrial action to take place later this year to reverse the introduction of instructor assessor posts.

The branch is now proceeding with a statutory ballot, which will run until October.

Forth Valley College Branch Convenor Anne-Marie Harley said: “Our members are not prepared to tolerate the undervaluing of lecturers by Forth Valley College management. We’re all experienced and qualified professionals, working hard for our students, and our employer should recognise that.

“Lecturers have a requirement to get teaching qualifications and will be professionally registered at the General Teaching Council for Scotland. It’s simply wrong for the college to force lecturers to become lower paid support staff while delivering more teaching.”

FVC principal Dr Ken Thomson OBE said: “The Instructor Assessor is a role which is now established at Forth Valley College. There is no going back and we must move on.

“The action by EIS is hugely disappointing and any future strike action will have major implications for the College and our students. This attack on learners by the EIS following a difficult period in education, is not something Forth Valley College can endorse or accept as reasonable. We are already facing huge challenges in light of significant financial pressures and economic uncertainty due to COVID-19.”