A TORY MSP representing the Highlands and Moray has challenged the Scottish Government over a promise it made to introduce collective pay bargaining for college lecturers.
Mary Scanlon will quit the parliament when the country goes to the polls in May – but in her final few months as an MSP is determined to highlight the fact that lecturers in the Highlands and Moray are being paid up to £7000 less than their counterparts in other parts of the country.
That, she claims, is despite SNP promises of a “national set of terms and conditions”.
Mrs Scanlon points to a SNP manifesto commitment in 2011 to return to national pay bargaining in colleges and had promised this would be in its Post-16 Education (Scotland) Bill. However, their failure to deliver this has been criticised by many, including the EIS’ Further Education Lecturers Association.
A former economics lecturer at the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Inverness College before being elected to Holyrood in 1999, Mrs Scanlon said: “My former colleagues at UHI Colleges are paid up to £7000 less than many people doing the same job with the same qualifications in colleges elsewhere in Scotland.
“Five years since national pay bargaining was promised, this still has not happened and now strike action has been suggested. It would not be acceptable for teachers, doctors and nurses to be paid different rates across Scotland – why should FE lecturers be treated any differently?
“College principals have said that intensive discussions are taking place to address pay disparity in the college sector, but that transitional monies would be needed to address the imbalance.
“There has been a £166million cut in funding for colleges from the Scottish Funding Council. Why can’t some of the savings made from these cuts be allocated towards making sure all of our college lecturers have equal pay?”
Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, replied that the SNP still remained committed to national pay bargaining, but admitted that this would not be achieved over night and that the Scottish Government needed to “pick up the pace.”
When pressed by Mrs Scanlon on whether or not the Government would be willing to put more money into the college sector to ensure equal pay, the Cabinet Secretary promised to look into the detail of this.