Bolton strike spills over into new year

December 22, 1995

The lecturers' strike at Bolton College, already a month old, is set to run into the new year.

The college management set a final deadline of Friday December 15 for strikers to agree to their new contract offer. Stirling Smith, chair of the college branch of the lecturers' union Natfhe, said he was not aware of any takers and that a branch meeting on December 18 had voted unanimously to continue the dispute, which started on November 20.

About 120 lecturers, accounting for half of the full-time equivalent staff, have rejected the offer of a new contract calling for 822.5 hours annual contact time. This compares to the old Silver Book level of 756 hours.

Fawzi Ibrahim, chair of Natfhe's National Action Group, said most local agreements were for about 800 hours. A College Employers Forum survey cited by the college said that three-quarters of settlements were 820 hours or above.

Mr Smith said: "We are quite happy with the pay offer of 2.7 per cent backdated to August 1, plus last year's increase. And we recognise that we have to make some concessions on hours and holidays. But we are not happy with the offer on hours. We must have negotiations and not dictation."

He said that the union had been willing to take the dispute to ACAS, but that the college management had refused.

Mr Ibrahim said the union would be happy to go on paying strike pay of Pounds 30 per day for as long as the dispute lasts. Strikers are having their pay deducted at a rate of 1/190th of their annual pay per day.

The principal, Terry Hogan, declined to comment. But in the most recent statement issued by the college, he said that the CEF survey "clearly demonstrates that the final offer was both fair and generous".

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