'No confidence' catches on

March 10, 1995

Further education lecturers held strikes across the country this week in the contracts dispute which has contributed to 70 separate votes of no confidence in management at colleges since September.

The Colleges Employers Forum dismissed the significance of the no-confidence motions saying they have become a devalued union tactic.

But lecturers' union Natfhe said they represented the genuine strength of feeling of staff aggrieved at working conditions.

CEF chief executive Roger Ward, speaking at a University of North London conference on sleaze in further education, said: "Upwards of 70 motions of no confidence have been passed in corporations and I do not believe any of these votes has got any grounds to them at all. What seems to me is happening is an abuse of an otherwise perfectly democratic right of the workforce. We are begining to have votes of no confidence showering on us like confetti. You may eventually find that if you have not got a vote of no confidence the chairman is going to be asking why."

Sue Berryman, Natfhe's further education negotiating secretary, said: "The no-confidence votes are certainly not coordinated, they are spontaneous, from people who are finding their working conditions horrendous. It is further proof we need sensible terms and conditions in order for colleges to function effectively.

"I think employers should take note of the votes and try and find out from lecturers what the reasons for them are."

Strikes were held at nearly 40 colleges on Wednesday and 57 in total during the week as part of continued protests against the new lecturers' contract.

Natfhe is holding another week of action starting on March 20 when it aims for a similar level of industrial action. The union's national executive meets today but is not expected to reverse its decision to boycott talks at Acas between the CEF and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers to resolve the two-year dispute.

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