College lecturers manned picket lines at campuses across the region in the first day of strike action on Tuesday.
Coronavirus restrictions limited the number of gathering lecturers at college entrances to just six at a time, in what was the first of two days of strike action planned for this week.
Campaigners are expected to gather again on Wednesday.
Unless a deal is stuck between the Education Institute of Scotland – EIS-FELA (Further Education Lecturers’ Association) and Colleges Scotland, a further nine days of industrial action is also planned over claims that college lecturers are being replaced by less qualified and lower paid assessors.
At all three of Fife College’s campuses at Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes and Dunfermline, demonstrating lecturers could be found waving banners, flags and placards.
Mean colleagues at Dundee, and Angus Colleges and Perth UHI were also out in support of the strike as the stalemate between the unions and college employers continues.
What caused the strike?
The bitter dispute stems from claims retiring lecturers are being replaced with poorer paid, less qualified instructor assessors, a claim that Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association strongly deny.
Commenting on the first day of the latest round of strike action, a Fife College lecturer and EIS-FELA representative said the support for the strike had been very encouraging.
“We’ve had around 20 lecturers support the action either in person or at home while adhering to the ongoing social distancing restrictions, which is very encouraging indeed,” he said.
“We had active pickets at all three of the Fife College sites as well as at other campuses across the region as part of a national walk out.
“And unless we get the deal which had been agreed between us and Colleges Scotland on March 25 ratified by them, then we will be here again tomorrow in a second day of strike action.”
However, the walk out was also being blamed for disruption studies for students at just weeks before many are looking to graduate.
Open for business
Fife College Principal Dr Hugh Hall said the college remains open for business both online and on campus.
He added: “Fife College values the work of lecturers and as such we have given a guarantee that none of them will be replaced with trainer/assessors.
“Our students have already had to put up with severe disruption due to the pandemic, and this action by the EIS threatens to cause more interruption to their studies.
“However students should be assured that we are doing all we can to support them at this time.
“The majority of lecturing staff at Fife College are not participating in the strikes and the college will continue to be open for business both online and on campus.
“We would urge the EIS to do the right thing by college students and its own members by calling off the strike and working with us to find a solution we can all agree on.”