Natfhe strikes ahead

May 26, 1995

Lecturers' union Natfhe has pledged more industrial action as it seeks local agreements at further education colleges after the breakdown of national contracts talks.

The union refused a last-minute approach from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service on Monday to re-join the Colleges Employers Forum and minority union ATL in session with Acas, after talks broke up on Saturday night.

The CEF went on to reach a settlement with ATL with which to tempt staff off their local authority Silver Book contracts. Converts will secure the 2.9 per cent pay rise denied this year to Silver Book holders.

The Acas-brokered agreement includes limits for annual and weekly teaching hours, to be reviewed after two years with Acas. As the hourly limits are not part of the contract but of a parallel agreement, Natfhe dismissed the deal.

"This is a deal with a sweetheart union. It certainly will not bring peace in the sector," said Natfhe general secretary John Akker. "We put forward an offer which we believed could have been the basis for further negotiations and we remain prepared to respond to any serious initiative aimed at resolving this dispute."

But Roger Ward, CEF chief executive, was emphatic that the national talks were over. "The annual hours and weekly guidelines that Acas has asked me to agree to reflect the reality of what is going on in colleges," he said.

He said that the Acas deal with ATL, which has just 2,300 members in further education colleges compared with Natfhe's 50,000, contained big CEF concessions.

"This is the first time the employers have been prepared to discuss and table weekly protection to address union concerns especially on workloads," said Mr Ward.

The Acas agreement puts annual hours at 756 to 832 from September and 794 to 886 the year after. Weekly hours are 22 to 26, then 23 to . Natfhe's final position at Acas when it left on Saturday was for an interim agreement for all lecturers lasting a year. It proposed annual teaching hours of 756 to 800 with formal monitoring by Acas to see if this met the needs of the sector.

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