College lecturers have held a demonstration outside the Scottish Parliament on the second day of strike action over a pay dispute.
Members of the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) Further Education Lecturers’ Association (FELA) walked out on Wednesday and Thursday this week in a call for a cost of living increase in pay.
Lecturers say that the rise would be fair and in line with public-sector pay policy.
Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association has indicated that it will work with EIS-FELA to find a resolution to the industrial action, but says that it must be affordable and sustainable for the college sector.
Four one-day strikes have already taken place since January.
Speaking outside the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, EIS-FELA President Pam Currie said: “I welcome a lot of colleagues and the politicians who have come along to speak today.
“But there is one group that are notable by their absence – that’s the party that are in government, the party that set up FE national bargaining, that told us that that was a manifesto committment, that has told us again and again how important further education is, to widening participation, to closing the attainment gap and to the STEM agenda.
“I was at STUC conference back in April and I heard the First Minister give a very fine speech about trade unions, about the fair work convention, about how committed she was and how much she welcomed the role of trade unions in our modern, fair Scotland.
“I have to say, and I’m very disappointed to say this, but I don’t believe you Nicola.
“You have to be judged not by your words at the STUC congress, but by your actions.”
At First Ministers’ Questions, Scottish Labour MSP Iain Gray urged Ms Sturgeon to intervene.
Mr Gray said: “All they want is a fair cost of living pay increase in line with public pay policy – something they have been denied for three years.
“Will the First Minister intervene now and get the colleges to agree a fair settlement, and if not, will she come out with me after FMQs and explain to those lecturers to their face why not?”
Ms Sturgeon said: “It always amazes me the number of times that Labour members, proud trade unionists, get up in this chamber and ask me to intervene in national bargaining between employers and trade unions.
“I want to see this dispute resolved. I think it is deeply disappointing that talks didn’t manage to build on the positive progress that has been made over the last few weeks and I would appeal to both sides to get round the table, to stay round the table, and to resolve this issue.”
Ms Sturgeon added: “The Scottish Government is funding in full the additional costs of the harmonisation of pay terms and conditions, which is around £100 million over three years.
“It is the responsibility of those involved in national bargaining to reach that resolution.”