The pay deal question has finally been resolved, it appears, as college lecturers have voted overwhelmingly in favour of accepting the offer from the Association of Colleges (AoC).
The vote, which saw lecturers asked to vote on accepting the offer following further negotiations between their union ““ the University and College Lecturers” Union (UCU) ““ and the AoC, has removed the threat of strike action for the time being. The ballot papers have finally been counted, and the UCU have announced that 80% of those voting were in favour of the offer from the AoC.
The agreement comes after several months of jostling around the negotiating table as the Colleges complained of funding restrictions and drawing blood from a stone, and the Unions pointed to the pay gap between FE lecturers and their school based counterparts. The initial offer of 1.5% from the AoC was scornfully dismissed as a “slap in the face” by the UCU ““ then NATFHE ““ who were already unhappy as more than half of the colleges had yet to honour the agreements signed previously.
This problem was the cause of widespread industrial action over the past year, including one event that coincided with the AoC’s Annual Conference in Birmingham. There has been a commitment made to providing future assistance to individual colleges in implementing the pay deal, which amounts to lecturers being paid 2% from 1st of August 2006 and then a further 1% from the 1st of February in 2007. Thus, the total increase on all pay scale points of 3% by February 2007.
Best Position Possible?
The Head of FE at UCU, Barry Lovejoy, said: “Our members have accepted this deal as the best achievable through negotiation. The settlement of the dispute offers the prospect of industrial relations peace for the sector but we expect employers to play their part and honour this deal in full. In particular the 140 colleges who have still to implement the modernised pay scales agreed over two years ago should pay particular heed to the clause in the agreement that recommends local talks on this take place with trade unions.
“We expect all such colleges to take up the opportunity to reach agreement before march next year on the process of introducing the new pay scales bringing lecturers pay closer to that of schoolteachers,” he concluded.
It would appear that the pay issue has been settled for now; however, watch this space for further developments in the months ahead. August is only a few days away now ““ the proof of the sharing of a pie, it would appear, will also be in the very swift eating.
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