City of Glasgow College will deduct full pay from boycotting staff, although colleges have been warned that doing so could invite legal challenges.

College leadership is confident in its approach and has told boycotting staff that they will not be expected to carry out any other duties and that any work during the boycott will be considered “voluntary.”

The City of Glasgow College is one of many threatening to “deem”—deduct some or all pay—in retaliation for lecturers taking part in planned action short of a strike (ASOS), in this case, a results boycott. 

During the boycott, lecturers will carry out all duties, including marking, but refuse to enter student results into official systems. The Herald has seen a letter from the City of Glasgow College leadership and can now explain how the pay deductions will be carried out.

City of Glasgow College has given lecturers until 5pm on Wednesday, June 26, to enter their results into the College’s systems.

Beginning June 27, those who fail to do so will face a 100% pay deduction for every day that results are missing.

When colleges first threatened to deem, trade unionists said it encouraged staff to go on strike since they would not be paid. A letter from the college Principal, Dr Paul Little, sent on June 20, outlines the college’s stance and confirms this possibility.

Dr Little said the firm response was necessary to avoid “the risks to students that another resulting boycott would create for the awarding of qualifications, and the ability of students to progress in their learning journeys and careers.

“The College does not accept partial performance and will deduct 100% of pay for each day of non-performance,” he wrote.

“Ensuring timely and accurate student results are submitted is crucial for our students' success and future opportunities.

“As the College does not accept partial performance there is no expectation that you will carry out your other duties while participating in the ASOS.

“Any work that you carry out while participating in the ASOS (by withholding student results), will be considered to be done on a voluntary basis.”

Dr Paul Little, Principal of City of Glasgow College, wrote to staff to inform them that anyone taking part in the results boycott would be deducted full pay.Dr Paul Little, Principal of City of Glasgow College, told staff that anyone taking part in the results boycott would be deducted full pay. (Image: Colin Mearns)

He added that there may be “exceptional circumstances” in which resulting is not possible, but it will be up to individual lecturers to raise this with management.

City of Glasgow College has said that roughly 20% of its lecturers have been taking part in the recent industrial actions. A college spokesperson said that "targeting students" with a results boycott "cannot be condoned and is a clear breach of contract.

"We have made this position consistently clear to our lecturing staff since February 2024, after seeking legal advice.

"The Board of Management supports the position of the College's Executive Leadership team and has been kept fully briefed by senior legal representatives.

"Deduction of a lecturer's pay would be a last resort attempt to secure student results to enable their future progression onto an advanced course or into employment.

"It will be implemented on a case-by-case basis rather than a through a blanket approach.

"Less than a fifth of lecturing staff have been participating in recent industrial action and we thank all lecturers especially those who continue to prioritise our students".

Escalating tactics as negotiations stall

The results boycott and threats of deeming represent a clear escalation in tactics from both sides of the ongoing college pay negotiations. Last year, EIS-FELA, the union representing college lecturers, carried out a boycott that caused major disruption to student progression.

Even though EIS-FELA did not receive an official mandate for this year’s resulting boycott until February, representatives on both sides of the pay negotiations were expecting it. Employers called the strategy a “significant” escalation and responded in kind.


At an “extraordinary” snap meeting of college principals in February, most of Scotland’s colleges agreed to the deeming strategy. College Employers Scotland, the group that represents employers at the negotiating table, convened the meeting, but each local college was left to determine its own strategy.

Some opted to deduct only partial pay from lecturers participating in the resulting boycott, some said they would withhold 100%, and a few said they would not. The meeting proved highly controversial, and attempts to uncover the full details were blocked.

In the months since, at least one college, Glasgow Kelvin, has backtracked on its decision and said that it no longer plans to deduct staff pay.

When the Kelvin board voted down the deeming plans, those who attended the meeting said that some concerns were raised about how to deduct pay legally.

Legal, but complicated

A main source of the controversy over deeming is not just the apparent severity of the punishment for industrial action, which is technically short of going on strike.

The general consensus among employers and unionists is that deeming is legal if done correctly. In advice to members, EIS-FELA makes it clear that any form of industrial action constitutes a breach of contract.

The union advised members that they can take legal action if a college deducts pay unlawfully but added that "in principle, an employer can make deductions in pay for staff carrying out ASOS".

However, colleges have been warned that lawfully implementing pay deductions may not be straightforward.

City of Glasgow College has been the site of targeted local and national strike action. (Image: EIS Union)

Some lecturers will not have results to be entered for the June 25 deadline provided. Because of the type of course they deliver, some lecturers will not have the type of results in question. Colleges may sometimes have difficulty proving that missing results are connected to ASOS and not some other circumstance.

But it isn’t just the logistics of deeming that make it complicated. According to Dr Little's letter, lecturers will begin to see their pay deducted on Thursday, June 27. However, they will not lose pay over a period of annual leave.

For many lecturers, annual leave begins July 1, which means that the only days eligible for deeming until the new term are Thursday, June 27 and Friday, June 28.

Both are planned strike days, and employers cannot deduct pay for the same day twice.

Negotiations continue to stall

City of Glasgow College is one of the 90% of colleges planning to deduct pay in an attempt to resolve the ongoing pay dispute sooner.

The negotiations began when staff unions submitted a pay claim in 2022. The most recent offer is for a three-year, £5,000 pay rise covering 2022/23 – 2024/25, and an additional 3% pay rise for 2025/26. 

All three support staff unions (Unison, GMB, and Unite) have previously accepted the three-year, £5,000 offer.

EIS-FELA has said that the four-year deal is unacceptable and has not put any part of the deal to its members for a vote. Negotiations are ongoing.

This story was updated with a correction on June 26. City of Glasgow College has said that roughly 20% of its staff have been participating in recent industrial actions.