The future of national bargaining for Scotland's further education lecturers is in the balance this week, with staff being balloted on a new deal allowing some conditions to be negotiated locally.
The Scottish Further and Higher Education Association is recommending rejection of the deal, on the grounds that the 2.5 per cent pay increase that is contingent on accepting the package does not compensate for the erosion in conditions.
But there is confusion in the Educational Institute of Scotland, with no official recommendation, while a call for a vote against from Joe Eyre, salaries convener of the EIS college lecturers' association, is being countered by warnings against following England from Fred Forrester, the union's deputy general secretary.
The Employers Association is likely to pull out of all national bargaining if its new package is rejected. It has offered a pay award backdated to April, with a Pounds 200 one-off payment, payable once local negotiations are successfully concluded at individual institutions, with a proposed deadline of mid-December.
National bargaining would cover contractual hours for the working week, annual leave and annual class contact, salary grades, part-time rates, maternity leave, sick leave and periods of notice, while the distribution of class contact hours, initial placement on salary scales, disciplinary and grievance procedures, and post-entry training would all be negotiated locally.
Some members of the CLA are strongly opposed to a potential departure from the Blue Book on pay and conditions dating from when the colleges were run by local authorities. In England and Wales, national negotiations have already been abandoned.