A fresh wave of autumn strikes looms in further education after lecturers' unions finalised their response to an employers' offer containing "unacceptable strings".
A pay rise of 2.1 per cent has been offered to academic, support and management staff in colleges. But the estimated 14,000 lecturers remaining on old local authority contracts - the so-called silver book - are to get nothing for the third year running.
This sticking point will prevent lecturers from accepting the deal according to their union, Natfhe, which is advising against acceptance. Formal consultations among union branches end next Wednesday and, according to Barry Lovejoy, new chair of FE negotiations at Natfhe, the signs are not optimistic for a negotiated settlement.
"If The Colleges Employers Forum behave as we expect them to do and impose an unnegotiated pay rise on our members this will merely further anger lecturers and deepen existing divisions," he said. "Our day of action on October 15 could be the start of a long campaign."
Marcia Roberts, personnel services director at the CEF, said there was no room for manoeuvre over those lecturers remaining on silver book contracts but said the employers were hoping to meet lecturers' representatives next week. No formal talks have been scheduled.
"All we can hope for now is a different approach from the new employers' body since we believe local employers are gaining bad advice currently," Mr Lovejoy said. The CEF is to be amalgamated with the Association for Colleges over the summer, with a new board to be announced today.