Lecturers who have vowed to carry on with a series of strikes have said they face “unmanageable” workloads due to staff cuts which will cause students’ quality of education to suffer. 

Workers at the City of Glasgow College (CGC) have voted overwhelmingly to continue a programme of industrial action as they fight job losses and changes to their working conditions. 

Members of the EIS-FELA union have been in dispute with the CGC since February due to the proposed cuts, increased workloads for lecturers, reduced face to face contact time for students and two rounds of redundancies - one of which will be compulsory. 

After a series of strikes came to an end in September, the union organised a second ballot for industrial action, which was passed by members.  

The college says it and other institutions are facing "substantial funding and financial challenges", particularly after the Scottish Government reversed a pledge to provide £26m in funding to further education.

However, the ballot saw almost 90 per cent of members vote in favour of continuing with industrial action, with 81% backing fresh strikes.

Glasgow Times: Striking staff on the picket line 

The ballot result means that the dispute will continue, until a resolution is reached. Further dates for strike action will be announced in due course.

The EIS has previously raised serious questions over the redundancy process at CoGC, including concerns that the process is potentially discriminatory and that it also may have a disproportionate impact on more vulnerable students and those requiring additional support.

Staff have spoken out anonymously over fears they may be singled out if they speak on the record.  

They told the union of fears over workloads, and said that further cuts would lead to a drop in educational standards.

One said: “I have witnessed the college management enforcing the cutting of course hours, student support, IT equipment and chopping courses as well as enforcing compulsory redundancies on staff. Yet at the same time they insist that the standards of the college will not drop.”

Another staff member told how they loved their job for the chance it gives them to have a positive impact on the lives of their students, but felt this would be under threat because of the cuts.

They added: “Watching them develop and progress onto higher education and into the working environment gives me enormous satisfaction.

“I have grave concerns about the cuts to lecturer class contact time with students, and the reduction in student support services that are available to them. I believe now more than ever, students need every minute we can give them, particularly those who may have additional support needs.

“Lecturer workloads are becoming unmanageable, and I strongly believe that the quality of the education that students receive will inevitably be impacted by this.  I encouraged all of my colleagues to vote for the industrial action to empower our union to hold management to account and stop the cuts.”

Glasgow Times:

A third said: “I voted to strike because I'm worried that the cuts, and how they are being implemented via compulsory redundancy, which will result in a poorer standard FE education. 

"I'm worried about the impact this will have on future generations, their quality of life and the opportunities to find meaningful, fulfilling work in a field they can make a valuable contribution to.

“As a result of these cuts, there are likely to be larger class sizes, fewer courses, less in-depth learning and training, and a consequent loss of morale and trust in the education system, something FE lecturers work hard to establish with their students.”

EIS General Secretary Andrea Bradley said the ballot had delivered an “extremely strong” result, which demonstrated that lecturers at City of Glasgow College would “not be cowed by the intimidatory tactics of the college management.”

Ms Bradely added: “Despite a very long-running dispute and the pain of taking industrial action, our members at City of Glasgow College remain resolute and united in their determination to fight the damaging job and course cuts being forced onto students and staff by the college management.” 

“The management of City of Glasgow College clearly hoped that, by dragging this dispute out and forcing a re-ballot under the UK government’s restrictive anti-trade union laws, that they could beat lecturers into submission.

“That has back-fired spectacularly, as our members have delivered an overwhelming new mandate for continuing industrial action and a very clear signal that they will not be beaten down by the intransigence of management at City of Glasgow College.”

A City of Glasgow College Spokesperson said: “EIS-FELA are deliberately targeting students with further industrial action and trying to cause maximum disruption to learning and teaching.

"The reality is that only a minority of EIS-FELA members voted for further strike action and they have lost an eighth of their members since they started this industrial dispute. We remain grateful to the majority of our teaching staff who continue to work to support our students on their learning journey.  

“The national EIS-FELA body has been demonstrating outside the Scottish Parliament and has called on the Scottish Government to fix the national crisis affecting colleges, so they recognise it is a national issue. Continuing with local strikes during a national funding issue cannot change anything; all it does is further disrupt our students." 

The spokesperson added: “All Scottish colleges face substantial funding and financial challenges from real-term cuts, plus high energy, inflation and staff costs. The claw back of £26 million that had been promised to the college sector in this year's Scottish Government budget exacerbates an already challenging financial landscape for the College.”