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NATFHE’s Head of Colleges Calls for Honouring of Commitments on Pay after Strike Ballot De

The Head of Colleges for the University and College Lecturers” Union (NATFHE), Barry Lovejoy, discussed the implications of strike action and the route ahead this afternoon.

The action has been voted for by the membership of NATFHE (with 71% voting in favour of striking), and will see some 26,000 Further Education lecturers from around the country going out on strike on the 16th of November. A number of them will descend on Birmingham to coincide with the Association of Colleges (AoC) Conference there, and will hold a rally outside the venue on the day when Ruth Kelly MP, the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, is set to address the audience.

The Strike Day

Mr. Lovejoy outlined the actions that will take place on the day, stating that “there will be a picket at all colleges covered”. There will also be some 15 coaches provided to bring people “from the furthest South in Southampton to the North in Hull and Newcastle” to the convention centre in Birmingham. There, the expected 1,000 members will disembark and distribute leaflets to conference attendees, including a letter setting out the NATFHE position, demands and expectations.

Following a march at noon around the vicinity, there will be a rally indoors attended by other Trade Unions as well, where those attending will be addressed by a number of senior activists. Mr. Lovejoy hopes that this will lead to a re ““ think on the part of the Government and the colleges involved, calling for all parties to come together and come up with a “roadmap to implement the new pay structure.”

Pay Deals, Speeches and a “Bolder” AoC

There has apparently been some movement on an individual college basis, however, with Mr. Lovejoy stating that some colleges have indicated that they are willing to pay lecturers above the 2.8% deal. He feels that this suggests there may be “more money available”, and calls for the establishment of a “modernising fund”. He recognised that colleges often have individual demographic concerns ““ for instance, those colleges that rely more heavily upon adult learners may face a tougher funding climate following the real ““ terms cut in provision this past year.

He urges the AoC and the Government to sit down with NATFHE to create this modernising fund that could attempt to redress the balance in funding not only between colleges and schools but between colleges. He also stated that the “AoC need to be bolder with their members”, thus encouraging them to meet pay deals agreed last year (which have not been met in approximately 65% of cases).

The Next Step

In the short term, then, the focus will fall upon the repercussions of the action on the 16th of November, which is sure to attract a great deal of media attention. Beyond this, Mr. Lovejoy said that the NATFHE National Executive would be meeting to determine the next step, and that the regional offices may make their own deliberations based on local circumstances. He also pointed out that there would soon be an announcement on this subject, namely the upcoming announcement from Ruth Kelly on the funding gap between school 6th forms and those in FE Colleges.

He recognised that action for action’s sake is not in anyone’s interest; union, lecturer, learner or administrator. It is clear that negotiations are desirable; but only if all parties come to the table with reasonable positions. The fact that much of the action is concerning a failure to meet pay deals agreed last year speaks for itself.

Jethro Marsh

Will this bring the colleges to the table with a new offer? Tell us in the FE Blog

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