Learnt lessons

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The April edition of Socialist Review reported on a dispute by lecturers in the EIS union at Edinburgh College. A bullying management, led by an intransigent principal, wanted a major increase in class contact hours that would cost jobs and increase already chronic levels of stress. Through an all-out unlimited strike we won a pay increase of 7 percent for most, 22 percent for the lowest paid, plus a reduction in workload. Your readers might like to know what has happened since.

After the settlement management did its very best to wriggle out of the deal. Negotiations on remaining issues stalled, and a secret briefing to managers seeking to overturn key aspects of the agreement leaked out. The union response was to ballot for a work to rule — the rule being to enforce all we had won in the strike. Some 95 percent backed the call. Protests were held at every campus. Just a few days before the summer vacation management cracked once again. Not only would the original deal be honoured, but issues they refused to negotiate on would now be discussed, and a proper recognition agreement signed. Temporary workers, who might well have been laid off if the contract was breached, were now safe: 163 have since been made permanent and many have joined the EIS.

We rejoiced to hear the principal is resigning to take on “new challenges” elsewhere. The challenge we face at Edinburgh College, and in Scottish further education colleges generally, is to fight the cuts visited on us by the SNP government and its Labour predecessor — the struggle goes on.

Donny Gluckstein
Edinburgh