College lecturers in Scotland have voted in favour of strike action over fears further education jobs are being replaced with lower-paid posts.
The ballot was arranged by the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS), with 92% of Further Education Lecturers’ Association (FELA) members voting in favour of the action on a turnout of 60%.
EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said any cuts in the middle of the pandemic “must be stopped”, with the ballot result to be considered next week.
He said: “Lecturers in Scotland’s further education colleges have sent a very strong message to their employers with this extremely clear ballot result.
“Our members will not accept the continuing threat from colleges to remove lecturing jobs and replace them with lower qualified, and more poorly paid, posts.
“The EIS is clear that colleges seeking to cut lecturing jobs in this way, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, is simply unacceptable and must be stopped.
“Education remains key to successful recovery from the impact of the pandemic and lecturers are essential to the delivery of a quality learning experience for Scotland’s college students.
“The EIS emergency committee will consider the ballot result next week and determine the next steps to be taken in the campaign to protect lecturing jobs.
“In the meantime, the EIS remains committed to ongoing discussions with college employers in the hope that strike action may yet be avoided.”
Colleges Scotland has criticised the action while discussions are still ongoing and said no such plans are in place, with other roles such as tutors or instructors commonplace in many sectors.
A spokeswoman said: “The action being taken by EIS-FELA is extremely disappointing after what has already been a very difficult and challenging year for staff and students across Scotland.
“The EIS-FELA has accepted that there is no national plan to replace lecturers with tutor/assessor/instructor roles, nor any other support staff roles, yet have still pushed forward with the ballot and the threat of industrial action.
“Tutor/assessor/instructor roles are not new to the college sector, they have been in place within colleges across Scotland for a considerable number of years to deliver a diverse curriculum which best suits the needs of the learner and the subject matter being taught.
“Different sectors and professionals also have a range of support staff roles which are required such as teachers and classroom assistants, solicitors and para-legals, nurses and nursing assistants.
“All roles, whether they be lecturing or support staff, are equally valuable and necessary to deliver the best learner experience and for the effective running of colleges. Each role is distinct and plays its own part in the successful operation of colleges.
“We are continuing talks with the EIS-FELA, and have agreed to meet again week commencing March 1 in the hope that we can reach a resolution and avoid any further unnecessary disruption for students.”