College lecturers are staging two days of industrial action throughout the area.

At Ayrshire College’s Kilwinning campus, around 20 staff rallied support at the gates with students and passing drivers showing their backing.

One of the organisers explained that their actions are not a demand for money, but asking for a previous agreement to be honoured.

She said: “This is not about more pay, it is about equal pay which the government agreed to through national bargaining, 14 months ago, when the colleges merged.

“Part of national bargaining is when everyone is paid the same pay for doing the same job, which makes sense.

“The deal was put on the table and was accepted, but what the employers have come back and said is that is not part of the package.

“But we would never have agreed that. What it means, in effect, that many people are taking a pay cut.

“Because of local bargaining, everyone is being paid different rates, and what we want across the whole sector is equal pay.

“Not everyone will get more money - some will, to bring them up - but it is not about more money.”

The lecturer, who asked not to be named, also revealed the amount of work that is carried out by dedicated members of staff.

“I do not believe that the employers understand the job. Students have mental health issues and anxiety. I have students who e-mail me at the weekend.

“Sometimes all they want is to talk to someone.

“No one realises how much this job involves. It is not just about preparing and delivering classes.

“But there is not enough preparation time allowed. In that time we have to arrange team meetings, review meetings and many other matters.

“It just cannot be done. You are as much a mentor as a lecturer.

“It is not just about teaching them a subject, they need guidance, confidence and support.

“Some people say ‘why are you on strike?’, but we so not want to disrupt students and we are doing all that we can to mitigate their learning experience.”

The EIS union has confirmed that the strike is over pay and conditions and the refusal of college management to honour a deal on pay reached more than a year ago.

A spokesman for the Colleges Scotland Employers Association said: “The only way to resolve this is through negotiation, not strikes.

“We firmly believe the offer on the table of an average nine per cent pay rise that will bring all lecturers’ salaries up to £40,000, with 56 days’ annual leave and 24 hours a week of teaching time is a very reasonable one.

“The EIS is striking for more holidays and less teaching time, which is simply not sustainable.”