Lecturers in Northern Irish colleges may strike over their 3 per cent pay offer after chief executives were awarded rises that were nearly five times greater.
Lecturers' union Natfhe is to consult its 1,700 members in Northern Irish further education colleges next month on whether they should ballot for industrial action. The average starting pay for a new lecturer is about Pounds 16,000 rising to Pounds 23,000 at the top of the ordinary lecturing scale.
The union is particularly angry that college principals and directors have just been awarded a 14.3 per cent rise by the Northern Ireland education minister John McFall. It means that some principals now earn over Pounds 77,000. Mr McFall vetoed a 22.4 per cent rise recommended by governors.
A spokesman for the Department for Education in Northern Ireland said that the 14.3 per cent increase was spread over three years from 1997. It covered the incorporation of colleges in Northern Ireland and the increased responsibilities of principals.