From education to employment

42 Further Education Colleges Strike Over Pay Dispute

A national strike across colleges in England is taking place today. Lecturers at 42 colleges are taking industrial action as a last-ditch measure in trying to bring the unfairness of their situation to the forefront. They are demanding that action finally be taken regarding their already agreed but not fully implemented pay deal.

The colleges where lecturers have opted for the walkout have refused to implement in full the conditions of a national pay deal agreed by the Association of Colleges and NATFHE in 2003. The deal would improve lecturers” pay by an average of 8%. It included a 3% rise in 2003/04 followed by another 3% rise in 2004/5. Crucially, in the second year the deal also included the introduction of a new pay structure that would give further increases. Although the deal was struck nationally, it was down to each individual college to implement the new pay terms for its lecturers.

Last week, lecturers at 70 colleges voted “yes” to the proposed walkout. Since then, through strenuous efforts for reconciliation, NATFHE branches at 21 colleges have now announced they will not strike as they have successfully entered into talks or reached agreements with management about a new pay deal that should see their salaries rise by 8%. A further seven branches are considering cancelling action. Barry Lovejoy, NATFHE’s head of colleges” department, said, “Just the threat of strike action has produced great dividends ““ 35% of colleges have now come up with goods.”

As it stands, lecturers at 42 colleges across England will walk out today and a further five will strike on Tuesday, March 1.Those colleges that are affected will be working hard to minimise disruption to their students. Mr Lovejoy also added: “At those colleges [where the strike will go ahead], lecturers feel more under-valued and demoralised than ever. That’s why they have resorted to strike action.”

The industrial action comes in conjunction with a report published by the Trades Union Congress highlighting the fact that teachers and lecturers top the unpaid overtime league table. All things considered, it’s no wonder then, says lecturers” union NATFHE, that lecturers in 47 Further Education Colleges in England are on strike today.

Zsofia Kadar

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