Industrial action among college lecturers has emerged as a real prospect, with union members registering a formal dispute with Shetland Islands Council.
Representatives from the Further Education Lecturers’ Association (EIS-FELA) say they have been handed a one per cent pay deal – at a time when they believed they were in the middle of negotiations for a flat-rated uplift of £450 for 2016/17.
It comes after college lecturers held a short demonstration last week to show solidarity with 20 colleges throughout Scotland where staff had taken strike action.
Local union branch secretary, Andrew Anderson, said staff here had been left bitterly disappointed that the one per cent uplift had been imposed upon them.
“The reason we’ve registered a dispute with the council is because the council has now imposed a pay deal on us.
“They’ve imposed a pay deal on us when we thought we were in the middle of negotiations.
“The council have approved through policy and resources and the Shetland College board for Shetland College to join national bargaining for colleges.
“But then when we put in a pay claim which reflects that national bargaining they said, ‘no, we’re not going to give you that. But we are going to give you the one per cent that other staff have got’.
“At the end of the day a lecturer doing the job here is pretty much the same as a lecturer doing the job in Dumfries.”
But head of the SIC’s development, Neil Grant, says the increase was made to keep “in line” with other council employees. He added it was also “broadly in line” with what lecturers elsewhere in the country received in their pay-packets.
“The council took a decision to provide a pay increase that was in line with other council employees and, I would say, was broadly in line with what other lecturers in other colleges would have received.”
Mr Grant said he understood lecturers in the isles wanted to see an “exact repeat” of what had happened in other colleges.
“They wanted it done that way rather than a percentage increase.
“My view is that if you get the calculator out they are actually better off with what they got.”