College lecturers have voted in favour of striking in a consultative ballot organised by a teaching union.
The Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) held a nationwide poll over concerns college lecturers are being replaced by “lower-qualified and lower-paid instructors”.
From a 72% turnout of eligible members, 86% voted in favour of a strike and 96% backed industrial action short of striking.
The union said the result gives a “clear mandate” to hold a statutory ballot on the issue.
When the consultative vote was opened, EIS general secretary Larry Flanagan said it was in defence of “quality further education delivered by qualified lecturers”.
He added: “The emerging practice of replacing qualified lecturers with lower-qualified and lower-paid instructors is purely a cost-cutting measure with absolutely no educational merit.”
The union believes education quality will deteriorate in colleges under this system.
Charlie Montgomery, EIS-FELA (Further Education Lecturers’ Association) resident, said: “With further education set to play an important part in Scotland’s recovery from Covid-19, it is in the interests of the students and the wider community that a professional education service is maintained.
“We hope that Colleges Scotland will now enter into urgent talks to resolve this pressing matter.”
A Colleges Scotland spokeswoman said: “It is disappointing that the EIS-FELA has balloted its members to ask them to consider industrial action in the midst of a global pandemic that has disrupted education and severely impacted the economy and employment prospects for many people across Scotland.
“The EIS-FELA is well aware that instructor/tutor/assessor positions are not new roles and have been in place within the sector for a considerable number of years.
“The EIS-FELA is attempting to take its members down the route of industrial action yet again at a time when large numbers of people in other sectors are facing job losses and pay restrictions.
“Colleges use a variety of different learning and teaching methods designed to deliver a diverse curriculum which best supports the needs of the learner and is appropriate for the specific subject.
“Both support staff and lecturing staff are equally valuable and necessary for the effective running of colleges, and the sector will play a key role in supporting Scotland’s economic recovery by supporting the tens of thousands of people who are going to have to change career, reskill and upskill to find new jobs.”