Talks at Acas on solving the college lecturers' contracts dispute were expected to continue late into yesterday evening following Natfhe's agreement to take part.
The Colleges' Employers' Forum welcomed the decision by the main lecturers' union, which had boycotted conciliation talks for two months.
Natfhe said the move was made possible by CEF assurances that any agreement would cover all lecturers and include contractual safeguards. The union said: "There was an indication the employers would also be prepared to negotiate safeguards on yearly and weekly teaching hours. The CEF's long-standing refusal to discuss formal limits on workloads has been a serious barrier in previous negotiations."
However, one potential stumbling block arose when the Natfhe branch at Deeside College in Clwyd declared an indefinite strike over contracts from from May 11. A branch spokesperson said members were angry at a college decision to terminate the Silver Book contracts of 15 lecturers including the Natfhe chair, secretary and NEC member for Wales.