The lecturers at thirteen colleges have voted overwhelmingly to go out on strike on the 25th of May, after waiting for thirteen months for the implementation of their agreed pay rises. This move comes in the wake of previous strike action taken during March and April following the ballot of 75 colleges by NATFHE, the University and College Lecturers” Union.
The lecturers involved in the latest decision to protest had formerly abstained from taking part in the ballot, but their patience has finally come to an end and they will walk out for the day on the 25th of May, joined by lecturers from 8 other colleges, who had participated in earlier ballots and then called off their industrial action operating under the belief that their pay deal would finally materialise.
The deal that the lecturers have been patiently expecting was drawn up between NATFHE ““ The University and College Lecturers” Union and the Association of Colleges. This comprised an overall increase of 8% in pay, with a 3% rise in 2003/4 and a further 3% rise in 2004/5. Furthermore, the second year of this scheme would also include the introduction of a new and shorter pay scale that would bring in further increases.
This was seen as part of the attempt to close the gap between the pay levels of college lecturers on one hand and school teachers on the other, estimated at about 10%. And, whilst this was a nationally agreed plan, the onus was placed on individual colleges to implement the plan in its entirety. This has failed to materialise at these 21 colleges, and they have decided, through a “yes” vote of more than 80%, that they have no recourse other than industrial action.
Barry Lovejoy, the Head of Colleges for NATFHE, makes it quite plain that this delay is unacceptable in a profession that lags behind in salary. He says that this deal was designed to “bring pay into the 21st century”, and points out that the lecturers at these 13 colleges have been exceptionally patient. He recognises, furthermore, that the blame for this must be shared between the college administrations, from whom NAFTHE are requesting consultation meetings setting out the timetable for putting the pay deal into action, and the Government, who he calls on to provide the finance “for the new pay structure in full and in a way that guarantees it ends up in lecturers” pay packets, not elsewhere in colleges.”
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