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UHI Outer Hebrides - formerly Lews Castle College – say they want "to assure all current and future students that we are working hard to support them throughout the current national strike.

"We are confident our staff are doing all they can to provide help for their students and our Student Services and admissions teams are available for anyone looking for any advice or support."

College lecturers across Scotland started strike action on Wednesday 20th April "seeking a fair pay award that recognises their efforts during the COVID 19 Pandemic."

Members of the EIS-Further Education Lecturers Association (EIS-FELA) say they are taking "action following protracted negotiations, regarding pay, that began with the submission of their pay claim in June 2021."

Over the course of negotiations, EIS-FELA have reduced their claim from a £2000 flat-rated award to £1300, in an effort to find compromise and avoid further industrial unrest in a further education sector that has seen repeated strike action over the best part of the last decade.

Despite calls from EIS-FELA negotiators to settle the issue of pay early and a rejection, by the EIS-FELA membership, of the original ‘final’ offer of £850, flat rated, with an £150, one off, ‘thank you payment, the management side of the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC), failed to bring an offer acceptable to EIS-FELA members.

As the action commenced, EIS General Secretary, Larry Flanagan, said: “An EIS survey, conducted in late 2021, found that over half of the lecturers who responded had experienced higher workloads and higher levels of stress during the pandemic.

"Concerningly, a similar number of respondents reported that they had received no wellbeing check in from their employers. Despite this, college lecturers have continued to deliver high quality teaching and learning to the students they serve.

“Since the advent of national bargaining in Further Education, there has been only one occasion in which a pay award has been made without EIS-FELA members having to resort to industrial action, pay awards have not been the result of benevolent management.

"Statements comparing the terms and conditions of college lecturers in Scotland with those elsewhere in the UK ignore the fact that these conditions of service, including pay, have been hard won through EIS-FELA members taking collective action, which has been repeatedly opposed by senior management and their representatives.

EIS-FELA says it "remains committed to negotiating an end to this dispute and indeed requested the last dispute resolution meeting that was held. However, at this point, there has been no formal invitation from the management side of the NJNC for further talks.

"College lecturers deliver for students; management representatives must return to the table with a pay offer that truly values their efforts”.