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Strike action closes college campus

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Strike action closes college campus

STRONG support is being claimed after strike action effectively closed both campuses of Dumfries and Galloway College yesterday.

But there are hopes that the 32 days of planned discontinuous action by lecturers can be brought to a quick end – before it affects exams.
Speaking yesterday, lecturer and EIS-FELA trade union spokesman Steve James said: “We had a picket line up at the college and that went very well; it was very well supported.
“We are very united on this.”
A one per cent pay increase which the college says is in line with public sector policy was accepted by three of the four trade unions in Scotland’s colleges.
But Mr James says the increase does not address pay inequality.
He said: “It means that between those on the higher salaries compared to the lower salaries, the gap is going to widen.”
And as talks with Scotland’s Colleges are brought forward a week, Mr James said: “That’s why you do these things – it’s a shock and awe tactic to make them sit up and think, ‘We’ve got to do something’.”
Concerns have been voiced about the impact on student’s exams, and Mr James says he hopes action can be halted before exams set to follow the Easter break.
And he says students have been ‘very supportive’.
Access to Nursing student Tanya Lowery was affected by the strike, but she said: “I can understand the point they are making, bearing in mind that they don’t get paid equally across the country.
“But at the same time they certainly aren’t badly paid in the great scheme of things and they have good perks with regards to holidays, etc.
“But it should be equal pay for the same job, no matter where you live.”
Dumfries and Galloway College have set out their view, as strike action threatens to run until June 23.
A statement said: “In the current financial and economic climate, the one per cent increase is fair and reasonable, and it is very disappointing that the union has chosen to embark on strike action.”
The college say terms and conditions for lecturers are line with the sector average, with a pay scale of £23,315 to £35,707 and 60 annual leave days, and that the majority teach a maximum of 24 hours per week.
Addressing the prospect of further strike action, the college said: “We will continue to develop plans to mitigate the impact of any further strike action on our students.”

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