A DISPUTE over pay led to disruption for students at Greenock’s West College Scotland campuses as lecturers went on strike.

Both the Finnart Street and the Waterfront buildings had picket lines yesterday in the first of a series of planned walkouts planned by EIS members in a row over pay.

Students were advised that classes would not run unless lecturers had specified they would.

Mark Gillan, EIS-FELA depute branch secretary, says staff feel they have no option but to take industrial action.

He said: “It is important to note our members are losing money whilst wishing we were teaching.

"We want everyone to get behind us to urge the management side to get back negotiating now.

“More strike action is on its way because we have been forced into this situation.”

Union officials say they have tried to compromise to resolve the dispute for more than two years and accuse management of failing to provide employees with a cost of living pay increase.

Mr Gillan added: “They have failed our members but more importantly they have failed students and our community by not displaying a willingness for meaningful negotiations, in fact, they have not shown any urgency at all.

“We have revised our pay claim time and again, with our most recent proposals sitting on the table without any counter offer.

“Our pay claim is in line with the offer made to support staff and public sector pay policy.”

Colleges Scotland is encouraging the EIS-FELA to suspend strikes and accept the 'incredibly generous' deal on the table.

A spokesperson their employers association said: “Colleges have met with the EIS-FELA on several occasions to try and resolve this pay dispute and have offered the best package for the 2017-20 three-year period anywhere in Scotland’s public services.

“The pay harmonisation already agreed and colleges’ additional pay offer is providing substantial increases to most lecturers with an average pay rise of well over £4,000 and delivering improved terms and conditions for all lecturers, including 62 days’ holiday a year, a reduction in student contact to 23 hours a week, and excellent career average pensions.

"The minimum pay increase any lecturer will receive is £2,600, while some are getting huge increases of almost £20,000."

Three more days of action are planned for February 5, March 6 and March 21.

A spokesman for West College Scotland said: “This is a national pay dispute and the strike will impact on every college in Scotland, including West College Scotland’s Greenock campuses.

“The college, of course, is disappointed that teaching is being disrupted but we kept our buildings open, and services such as libraries, computer labs and refectories available to any student who wished to use our facilities."