A WAVE of industrial action is spreading through further education as colleges prepare to bite the bullet on funding cuts.
Staff at more than a dozen colleges are taking industrial action, according to lecturers' union Natfhe. The union says that the numbers of disputes will grow as colleges seek further cost cuts.
Natfhe has warned Labour leader Tony Blair that FE could prove a painful thorn in the side of a Labour government. It has asked for action to soften the blow on college budgets next year.
Sue Berryman, Natfhe's national FE negotiator, said: "It is almost inevitable that there will be an increase in disputes. The funding allocations for next year are still subject to final decision so we will be calling on a new government to review the situation, preferably going for a standstill budget plus inflation."
Southwark College, in London, is among the most seriously hit. A proposal to cut staff costs by Pounds 1.5 million will axe about 38 lecturing jobs. This has provoked a Natfhe vote for all-out indefinite strike action from next Tuesday.
The Association of University Teachers says that it has no official disputes but it has warned a future Labour government against imposing a public sector pay freeze.