COLLEGE bosses have taken the unusual step of writing directly to lecturers in a warning over impending strike action.

Alex Linkston, chair of the employers’s association of Colleges Scotland, said he issued the open letter as a result of unions “continually misrepresenting” the pay offers colleges had made.

He also raised concerns that none of the offers from colleges had been put to the membership of the Educational Institute of Scotland’s further education lecturers’ association (EIS-FELA).

He said: “Colleges are gravely concerned with the direction EIS-FELA is heading in as they are committed to withholding assessment results if they receive a mandate from their members for action short of strike action.

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“Such a course of action would severely affect students in the sector as, without external verification by awarding bodies, they would be unable to achieve their qualifications, meaning they would be unable to move on to other courses at college or university, finalise their apprenticeships or move into jobs.

“This cannot be right, and we believe many lecturers will be aghast at this ploy, and, if so, we ask them to make it clear to their EIS-FELA branches they do not want to put the students at such a disadvantage.”

Mr Linkston said Scottish lecturers were by far the best paid in the UK with combined increases amounting to a national average increase of over £5,000.

However, Larry Flanagan, general secretary of the EIS, described the open letter as “disingenuous”.

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He said: “This continues to conflate harmonized equal pay with a cost of living pay rise. It also inaccurately portrays the steps the EIS has taken to keep its members fully informed.

“It is a blatant attempt by Colleges Scotland to bypass the proper collective bargaining process with trade unions and the latest example of unacceptable behaviour by a management body clearly unwilling to negotiate.”