Further education colleges could face another summer strike wave following the breakdown this week of pay talks between lecturers' union Natfhe and the Association of Colleges.
Natfhe said it was extremely disappointed by the employers' recommended offer of 2.5 per cent, which it has rejected. "We are as far away from each other as ever," said negotiator Sue Berryman.
Natfhe's claim is for between 7 and 8 per cent for the bulk of its 40,000 members, plus a return to a national framework which would include pay bargaining. The union will now hold a national ballot for industrial action.
The AoC said in a statement it was pleased to announce that agreements had potentially been reached with four of the five main unions in the sector. "This has been a challenging round given the financial circumstances," it said.
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers, a minority organisation, and the Association of College Management, have agreed the pay recommendation. Support staff unions are balloting on the offer which the AoC said it was "confident" would be accepted.
The AoC said Natfhe's decision was disappointing but "comes as no surprise and re-emphasises how out of touch Natfhe is with the financial situation in colleges".
Natfhe said the framework allowed for a maximum 900 teaching hours per year, which was almost twice the equivalent in the higher education sector.