As the latest situation surrounding Further Education lecturers” pay unfolds, their need to move towards a more direct action becomes unavoidable, according to the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE).
Lecturers at almost a third of further education colleges are poised to strike because they have not been awarded pay rises made under a national deal. On the brink of a walkout, hundreds of lecturers at about 80 colleges across England will take part in a national ballot to be held next Friday (February 4) to decide whether or not to go ahead with the strike. “This month’s strike is just the first round. Others colleges are likely to join in further action over the next few months. It may be a rough, tough battle ““ but lecturers patience has run out,” commented NATFHEs head of colleges Barry Lovejoy.
The fury of the FE lecturers was evoked by colleges refusing to implement in full the conditions of a national pay deal agreed by the Association of Colleges and NATFTHE.
The recommended 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. Amongst other points the deal was to include ““from August 2004- a maximum salary of £30,705 for qualified lecturers and a starting salary of £20,283 and a new starting salary of £16,002 for unqualified lecturers and a maximum of £19,116.
Despite half a year elapsing after the intended official implementation, most colleges have still not put the agreed deal into operation. Lecturers believe that they therefore have no other means to make their concerns heard but to threaten a strike.
“The Association of Colleges has claimed nine out of ten colleges have given the 3% rise this year. We would question those figures but even if they are accurate, very few colleges have introduced the most important part of the deal – the new pay structure. That’s why lecturers are up in arms, “added Lovejoy. The majority of lecturers are poised to strike on Thursday 24 February 2005, while a handful will walk out on Tuesday 1 March. A further two days of strike action are likely in March.
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