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NATFHE to Organise National Strike After Pay Offer Rejection

In the continuing dispute regarding pay in the FE college sector, NATFHE are set to impose a national strike in November after their claim for a 7% pay increase was rejected.

Instead of the proposed rise for all teaching staff, NATFHE, the University and College Lecturer’s Union, was offered 2.5% from September 2005 and 2% from September 2005 with an extra 0.08% from January 2005.

Despite schools receiving 13% more funding per year than Further Education colleges, NATFHE stated that schoolteachers were offered a 3.25% pay increase for 2005/6- some 10% more than college lecturers.

The Impending Recruitment and Retention Crisis in FE

College lecturers are often teaching 100,000 14-16 year old students the same vocational subjects in FE colleges as those offered in schools. This figure is expected to rise to approximately 250,000 by 2008. The pay offer for 2005 and 2006 follows a previous two year gap pay deal, aimed at bringing lecturers” salaries in line with their teaching counterparts at schools. Only a third of colleges have complied with this, and many of the remainder have yet to fully implement the scheme.

Worried NATFHE officials have stressed that the failure to achieve pay parity with schools will mean colleges will struggle to recruit new teachers to replace their ageing workforce, as 50% of teaching staff in this sector are due to retire within the next decade. It is feared that without the backing of a strong and motivated workforce, colleges will struggle to tackle the skills shortage, preventing them from meeting a broad range of educational aspirations and government targets.

NATFHE Calls Offer “A Step Backwards”

Barry Lovejoy, NATFHE head of colleges, said: “This offer is a step backwards after we have made some progress in the past two years on narrowing the pay gap between lecturers and schoolteachers. However, the majority of lecturers have still not received last year’s pay award in full and this offer does nothing to address that issue.”

The planned strike in November is one of many actions organised by NAFTHE over lecturers” wages highlighting the lack of response from authorities in this matter. As recently as March this year, more than 20 colleges caused disruption by going on strike over pay conditions, where at least 70 lecturers, who were expecting to see an 8% improvement in their pay deal, proposed a walkout from classes.

“If this government is serious about implementing its skills strategy, it needs to act now to provide the funds to deal with this pay crisis and avoid another round of industrial action in further education.” said Mr Lovejoy.

The NATFHE will be holding a public ballot in October for a national strike by colleges in mid-November; the union is confident to full support from its members.

Kavita Trivedi

Talk about the pay deal, and the price to be paid in not meeting demands, in the FE Blog

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