Efforts to resolve the ongoing dispute between lecturers and management at Ayrshire College in Kilwinning have stalled after bosses declined to attend arbitration.
Problems arose when senior management introduced new working arrangements without consulting staff. Following this move, the EIS (Educational Institute for Scotland) balloted lecturers, receiving 86% support for strike action in opposition to the changes.
Matters were exacerbated when bosses then suspended a lecturer who is also a trade union official and had taken part in a picket of the college. The suspension was later lifted.
Negotiations between management and trade unions have been ongoing, resulting in a revised proposal being put forward last week. Union officials recommended that members accept the new offer, but when the deal was put to lecturers, it was rejected by 55% to 45%.
The EIS then proposed that they and college managers attend the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) in an effort to reach agreement on ending the dispute. However, this move was rejected by bosses.
EIS General Secretary Larry Flanagan said, “It is clear that lecturers at Ayrshire College remain unconvinced by the latest proposal from college management on their working conditions. It is also clear that there is little prospect of significant progress through further discussions with the college management.”
Mr Flanagan revealed that union negotiators had offered to suspend all planned industrial action, pending a decision by ACAS, “in the hope of reaching a fair agreement, which will allow all lecturers to return to their normal, agreed working patterns”.
However, the decision by college management to refuse the offer and to decline attending the arbitration service means the dispute is set to continue.