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The Scottish Government has brought in a mediator to try and bring a resolution to a series of strikes hitting colleges.

Deputy first minister Swinney said John Sturrock QC would help both sides steer towards more constructive talks and “break the deadlock" in the dispute around a national set of terms and conditions for further education lecturers.

An agreement last year promised equal pay for lecturers, after decades of wide variations in salary in colleges across the country.

Employers’ organisation, Colleges Scotland, want to link the deal to changes to teaching hours and annual leave but the EIS union says management should honour the agreed timetable for implementing the pay award.

John Swinney urged the union to suspend the strikes but the union said industrial action would continue with new dates arranged.

Further Education lecturers at Lews Castle College have been striking in Stornoway and Benbecula on Tuesday and Wednesday.

On the picket line, Lews Castle College EIS union official Donnie Macdonald said: “The strike is absolutely rock solid.  We’ve had every single union member out every strike day.”

And its the same picture across Scotland he emphasised.

“This strike is strengthening and members are absolutely determind to persuade Colleges Scotland to honour the agreement that they signed.”

Mr Macdonald was “pleased” that John Swinney appointed a mediator.

“But the people with the real capacity to resolve this is Colleges Scotland who need to stop obfuscating and stop transmitting distortions and untruths,” he said.

“They need to get back to the position they were at and honour the agreement - that is the root of the problem.”

EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said: “We are disappointed that the deputy first Minister did not press Colleges Scotland to implement the agreed April pay settlement as this could have led to an immediate suspension of the strike action.

Shona Struthers of Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association, welcomed the appointment of an independent mediator to facilitate the ongoing talks.

She said it was a “reasonable request” for the EIS to suspend further strikes while talks continue.


Scottish Government intervenes in college strike

17 May 2017