'Insulting' pay offer leads to a strike

May 24, 2002

Further education college lecturers have voted to back a two-day strike next week over an "insulting" 1.5 per cent pay offer from employers.

An estimated 32,000 lecturers will leave classrooms empty at 280 colleges across the country on Tuesday and Wednesday after voting two to one in favour of strike action in a ballot held by lecturers' union Natfhe.

Pay talks scheduled to take place this week were cancelled when employers refused to increase their offer.

David Gibson, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said many colleges were finding it "difficult or impossible" to pay lecturers better salaries.

He pointed out that the AoC had joined Natfhe and other unions in lobbying Parliament for an extra £500 million to fund improvements in staff pay that were needed to address a pay gap between colleges and schools.

He said: "Like Natfhe, we want these problems addressed in a decent funding deal from government this summer. But it is a great shame that Natfhe has taken such premature action before we see the outcome of our joint endeavours."

Natfhe wants employers to agree to a "substantial" increase to help bridge the pay gap, which it claims is about 10 per cent.

Paul Mackney, Natfhe's general secretary, said: "The employers say they want to pay lecturers salaries comparable to schoolteachers but offer 3.5 per cent less. The government keeps saying it wants to improve lecturers'

pay, but has yet to come through with the cash."

Mr Mackney added: "Our message to both the employers and the government is: between you, sort this mess out."

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