Lecturers’ strike: ‘If we don’t win, it won’t just be a day’s strike pay we’ll be losing’

Photo: Craig Maclean

A striking college lecturer speaks to the Voice · “College lecturers are on our third week of strike action for a cost of living pay rise dating back two years. What do we want? 6.4 per cent over three years; well within the public sector limit.

“Our employers, the college principals, are saying that they can’t afford it, despite the fact that the Scottish Government have given the money.

“The Principals are quick enough to feather their own nests—they never forgo a pay rise. They have given themselves consistent increases over the years of austerity.

“They pay themselves ridiculous salaries but then refuse to disclose them. Paul Little, Principal of City of Glasgow College, takes home somewhere in the region of £165,000 (£13,750 a month before tax) plus private health care (from public money). A salary higher than that of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“They do have an over inflated sense of their abilities. While they sit on over inflated salaries, they employ hundreds of lecturers on zero hours contracts—you heard right—lecturers with degrees, Masters and PhDs are on zero hours contracts for years. This means no pay for two months in the summer, or at Christmas or Easter.

“Colleges like City of Glasgow—who claim to be 21st century learning centres with a blue ocean strategy (yes really)—operate with Victorian employment arrangements.

“The employers want the knowledge the capabilities and the commitment of lecturers on the cheap. Our last strike won what’s called permanisation for these colleagues, due on 1st April 2019. The employers want to renege on this.

“Who holds these principals accountable? No one. City of Glasgow College just advertised for an executive chef at £55,000 with no management responsibilities. What for? To cook junkets for the Principal and his pals?

“Teaching, that’s what we do—we’re not a private company and these principals ain’t no Dragon’s Den. They are running about with hundreds of millions of pounds of public money from the government. A good few have been promoted well above their capabilities. As is evidenced in this current dispute.

“They don’t even know how to negotiate properly—Paul Little from the employers’ side came to the table two days ago in the middle of a pay negotiation and laid down demands, including job evaluation and the introduction of classroom observation which could lead to management action, and a whole load more.

“These demands would blow up the return to national bargaining and the new terms and conditions we won in our last strike.

“They are like children who throw their toys out of the pram because they didn’t get their own way last time. especially Paul Little. They want to go back to the good old days where they lorded it over their individual fiefdom without challenge.

“This strike has just got more serious.

“We want accountability. Public money should bring public accountability and the government should act. They say they can’t afford a cost of living rise.

“Well, open the books let’s see the figures, all of the figures, how much are colleges paying to senior management, including salaries, enhanced pensions, private health care and expenses. Executive chefs will be the least of it.

“Support the strike. If we don’t win this dispute, it won’t just be a day’s strike pay we will be losing.”

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