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Six Further Education Colleges In London To Strike Next Week

Further Education lecturers in London are striking next week after two attempts at securing a promised pay increase. Lecturers at six London further education colleges are set to strike over their ongoing ordeal over disparities in salaries.

Lecturers at 42 colleges took part in a national strike on February 24, while lecturers at a further five colleges walked out on March 1 and lecturers at ten colleges walked out on March 15 and 16. In London, NATFHE members at five out of six of the colleges due to strike next week have already walked out at least once.

The reason to repeat the industrial action and thereby stress the seriousness of the situation has been cited as a lack of full implementation in certain colleges of the terms of a pay deal agreed between the union, NATFHE, and The Association of Colleges. That pay 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 it was struck nationally, it was down to each individual college to implement the pay deal but nine months later, these six colleges have failed to do so in full.

The deal was seen as making significant strides towards narrowing the estimated 10% pay gap between college lecturers and schoolteachers. The fundamental problem, these lecturers believe, is that they are undervalued and unappreciated. Just as their colleagues in schools, they want the government to recognise their efforts -which arguably in some cases can even surpass those in schools- and appoint financial rewards so as to encourage lecturers to stay in FE.

The lack of government attention is only a part of the problem, commented Barry Lovejoy, NATFHE’s head of colleges” department. “The capital’s college lecturers face higher costs of living ““ that pressure strengthens their determination to get the rises they believed had been agreed and would be in their pay packets by now.”

Lovejoy warned, “This may not just be a spring of discontent – it will run in to the summer and beyond if colleges do not cough up.”

The University and College Lecturers” Union, NATFHE, estimates 22% of colleges have now reached agreement on all elements of the pay deal ““ many have done so since the threat of industrial action was first presented in February.

The six colleges set to strike are:

Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College

Harrow College

Stanmore College

Havering College

City and Islington College

Lambeth College

Zsofia Kadar

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