Renfrewshire college lecturers embark on 16-day strike action as wages to be docked

John Allison, left, joins colleagues on the EIS-FELA picket line on Renfrew Road
-Credit: (Image: Andrew Neil)


Staff at West College Scotland (WCS) will have their wages docked as they embark on 16 days of strike action amid growing fears for students education.

Beleaguered lecturers at the Paisley campus are again standing on the picket line after chiefs at the college vowed to deduct two days wages from any member of staff who fails to enter students results into the nationwide system.

The results boycott is a work to rule tactic which has been employed by the EIS-FELA trade union for a second year. It means that while students will be given their end-of-year result, the grades will not be formally recorded.

But fears are growing that some students may not even be able to complete their studies as lecturers are set to walk away from classrooms for 16 of the remaining 20 days of the college calendar. They had also been absent for three days last week.

John Allison, the EIS-FELA rep at the Paisley campus, said planned strike action had been extended as a result of the threat to wages. Staff had already staged several walks outs as part of their long-running pay dispute with College Employers Scotland.

John said: “I am deeply disappointed by the principal’s decision to ‘deem’ lecturers who are participating in lawful industrial action.

“This heavy-handed tactic is an unnecessary escalation that undermines the trust and already low morale of lecturers within West College Scotland. We are calling for the immediate removal of this unacceptable threat by the principal.

“Our lecturers deserve fair treatment and respect as we fight for a fair pay settlement and the proper funding our college desperately needs. We all want to be back in the classroom supporting students, not out on a picket line challenging deeming.”

This week, WCS principal Liz Donnelly carried through with her threat of deeming staff but also warned that they would not be paid for every day of the new school term should they fail to settle the pay dispute before August.

The threat to wages is the latest blow to lecturers who have not had a pay increase in almost three years, throughout which time prices have soared.

EIS-FELA wants an £8,000 uplift in wages which would also cover the next academic year. However, CES will only offer £5,000.

A spokesperson for West College Scotland said: “Deducting pay is never a measure that colleges want to take. We absolutely recognise the legal right to take industrial action but entering results is a critical aspect of the employment contract, and failure to do so hits directly at students.

“We therefore remain concerned about the negative impact another resulting boycott may have on students’ dedication and success being recognised through the awarding of qualifications, and in turn their ability to progress with their learning or careers.”

The college also said it was actively working with other academic institutions and employers who have in most instances agreed to honour conditional offers made to students in recent months.

The spokesperson added: “We want to assure students that the college is doing everything we can to minimise the impact of the strikes on their studies and we know that some may be worried.

“As and when the dispute is resolved the college will work to ensure the results for affected students are confirmed at the earliest opportunity.”

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