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Economy Minister Diane Dodds today urged the unions representing lecturers and Further Education (FE) employers to work together to bring a resolution to their ongoing dispute.

The Minister was speaking ahead of planned industrial action from the University and College Union (UCU) on Wednesday.

She said: “Further Education colleges are employers in their own right and are responsible for determining the terms and conditions of lecturing staff, including the negotiation and agreement of any changes to those terms and conditions, including pay, with trade unions. I have no legal authority to intervene in these matters and therefore have no direct role in this dispute.

“It is only when agreement has been reached between the employers and the unions through that process that a business case is submitted to my Department for appraisal. Should the business case be considered to be sufficiently robust, my Department may approve it and give consideration to bringing forward proposals to meet any additional resource requirements.

“That is why I encourage both unions and employers to get around the table and continue negotiations to develop agreed proposals which are sufficiently robust to meet the needs of both lecturers and learners going forward.

“It is a shared responsibility of all who work in further education to work collaboratively to ensure that FE learners, who have already impacted by the pandemic, are not disadvantaged by the dispute.”