A joint lobby of the next Parliament for better pay by lecturers' unions and employers in further education looks likely, both sides agreed this week.
The Association of Colleges reiterated its call for the unions to work with it to build a strong case for lecturers' pay to be increased to the level of school teachers. This case would then be taken to the next spending review, planned for 2002.
In response, Natfhe, the college lecturers' union that is threatening to escalate industrial action after its members' one-day strike last month, said a joint lobby was an attractive option.
However, Natfhe said it wanted to act before the next spending review and planned to petition its members for a lobby and national demonstration in early July.
Natfhe's members' calls for more industrial action to back the union's claim for an immediate £3,000 flat-rate pay rise may still stand in the way of joint action with employers.
Sue Berryman, Natfhe's further education chief, said: "There is definitely some prospect of a joint lobby, since we obviously want to take this issue up with the new government."
But she added: "It will be difficult to move forward unless the employers are prepared to offer more than 3 per cent and, from what we have heard of the money they are able to offer, that seems unlikely."
Ivor Jones, the employers' secretary for the National Joint Forum that is to meet to seek a solution to the dispute on June 26, said: "We want to be able to present a joint case for more funding, which is in the interests of both the colleges and the lecturers.
"Not only is funding inadequate, but part of that money is tied up in particular initiatives, which means our unit of resources remains low.
"It is very difficult for many colleges to do anything about pay. I believe a joint lobby is the only way we will be able to achieve what we all want to achieve," he said.
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