RISE - Scotland’s Left Alliance has today reiterated its support for the EIS-FELA industrial action over the right to national collective bargaining.

James McEnaney, RISE education spokesperson and an FE lecturer, said:

 "RISE agrees with EIS-FELA that national pay-scales for college lecturers must be implemented in order to protect all staff, and urges the government to ensure that this happens by increasing funding for the college sector. The enormous disparity in pay rates across FE is categorically unacceptable.

 “Failure to ensure the introduction of National Pay Bargaining for FE staff would be an unforgivable betrayal of college lecturers, particularly when the government explicitly backed such a change in their 2011 manifesto.

“Collective bargaining is a fundamental employment right and should not be up for discussion.

“Further Education is a vital component of our education system, offering opportunities for people - a large proportion of them working class - to acquire the skills and qualifications they need to progress into employment or Higher Education. For too long FE has borne the brunt of government spending cuts: jobs have been lost and courses - many of them the shorter courses which provide a first step back into education - discontinued, while remaining staff have been expected to constantly do more with less.

“Frontline teaching staff are now being told that a fair pay deal is unaffordable, despite outrageous sums having been spent on severance packages for senior managers in recent years. RISE also notes that while the Scottish Government described the ballot for industrial action as “disappointing”, already overpaid MSPs are in line for a 2.7% pay rise - dwarfing that offered to the rest of the public sector -from April next year.

“Scotland’s education system depends upon the professionalism and dedication of our educators, the majority of whom work well beyond the requirements of their contracts for the benefit of learners. Further alienation of Further Education lecturers is not acceptable, and the government should act now to resolve this dispute.

“Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.”