TOMORROW'S college strikes in Alloa and beyond have been averted, but industrial action may continue if this week's crunch talks break down.

Representatives of employers in the sector, including Forth Valley College, welcomed the decision by the Educational Institute of Scotland Further Education Lecturers’ Association (ES-FELA) to suspend the industrial action organised for Wednesday, May 8.

The trade union has been campaigning to secure a fair cost of living pay rise for lecturers and its website yesterday confirmed that “strike action is currently suspended”.

It is understood, however, that other industrial action, including withholding students’ assessment results, continues.

Further strike dates previously announced for next Wednesday and Thursday, May 15 and 16, are still to go ahead, according to the Advertiser’s best understanding at the time of writing.

John Gribben, director of employment services at Colleges Scotland Employers’ Association, said: “Colleges welcome the decision by the EIS-FELA to suspend their strike action on Wednesday, May 8, and, while we are moving closer to reaching a deal, we recognise there is more work to be done.

“We’re disappointed that the EIS-FELA continues to target the students by withholding their assessment results and has not called off strike days scheduled for Wednesday, May 15, and Thursday, May 16.

“Colleges have made a further improved financial offer to the EIS-FELA subject to agreement on terms and conditions.

“We believe lecturers would accept the deal and have asked the EIS-FELA to take our offer to its members for approval.”

It is understood that 17 meetings have been held so far as part of the dispute.

Further talks to agree a pay deal are scheduled for Thursday May 9, in Dundee.

The EIS-FELA trade union was unable to issue fresh a comment to the Advertiser at short notice.

Their general secretary, Larry Flanagan, previously said that escalation in industrial action “has been forced upon us by the continuing intransigence of college management and by the refusal of Scottish Government to intervene in relation to this vital sector of our education system”.