From education to employment

TUC Support Move for Acas Negotiations

As the members of NATFHE leave their annual conference, the pay dispute continues over the failure of colleges up and down the country to implement the pay deal that had been agreed, which would have provided educators in Further Education colleges with an 8% pay rise over two years.

This deal, it had been hoped, would prove to be the first step in equalising the pay levels between the FE and HE sectors, with Paul Mackney, the General Secretary of NATFHE, describing the forthcoming pay deal as “contemptibly mean” in his conference speech on Saturday.

NATFHE had supported the ballots that had taken place in 13 more Further Education colleges as the patience of the lecturers finally wore out, with NATFHE members at Newcastle College going out for their seventh day on strike on the 24th of May in protest to the College principal Jackie Fisher’s designs on increasing the maximum weekly teaching hours to 30 hours whilst failing to honour the agreed national pay deal in its entirety.

Acas to Step In?

The lecturers were also addressed by Mr. Mackney, who compared the action to “the dark old days of the 1990s” and praised them for “defending the long – term interests of students as well as themselves.”

The action taken by the lecturers has also gained the support of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), who have joined NATFHE’s General Secretary in calling for the college to agree to mediations involving Acas, the employment relations conciliation service.

In response to an enquiry regarding the TUC’s stance on the industrial dispute, Mr. Kevin Rowan of the TUC said: “We understand the financial pressures that the College is under, and recognise that Colleges need to change and be flexible if they are to be able to deliver the government’s skill strategy”.

Mr. Rowan goes on to comment that the involvement of Acas seems – to the TUC – to be an effective negotiation strategy to bring the two sides to an understanding, saying: “We are strongly encouraging the College to accept NATFHE’s request to involve Acas in seeking a resolution to this dispute.”

It remains to be seen whether this offer will be taken up by the College, as the dispute rumbles on.

Jethro Marsh

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