Procedure quibbles fail to halt pay talks

July 7, 1995

Further education employers and the two leading unions in the sector are to resume pay negotiations in spite of recent accusations that national procedures have been breached.

Last week Natfhe, the university and college lecturers' union, accused employers of breaking a national agreement by recommending a pay offer to colleges before it could be considered officially.

Roger Ward, chief executive of the Colleges Employers Forum, said unions had asked for a further meeting, which will take place. He warned there was no prospect of any improvement in the CEF's current and final offer.

"Moreover we have not broken any procedures. There is nothing which says this has to be in writing. We made our offer and having done so advised our members accordingly."

The College Employers Forum recommended a pay offer to colleges which had been rejected by the unions verbally the previous week.

The offer was for a 5.6 per cent increase for "silver book" holders who signed new employment contracts by July 31. Staff on existing contracts would receive 2.7 per cent and those who refused to transfer nothing at all for the second year running.

Natfhe and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, which met last week to consider the offer, said the CEF decision to circulate the pay offer was clearly in breach of the National Negotiations and Procedures Agreement.

They reaffirmed their rejection of the pay offer, which they say is vindictive to silver book holders, and called for a resumption of national negotiations.

In the event of a breakdown in negotiations, Natfhe is committed to ballot its members for industrial action. The ballot would be carried out simultaneously branch by branch in September for action in October.

The union has also decided that action on contracts will continue with institutions affected being hit by industrial action during enrolment week.

* The week's other leadership election, for the chairmanship of the Colleges Employers Forum, has been won by former Natfhe official Keith Scribbins.

Mr Scribbins, chair of governors at South Bristol College and until recently deputy director of the Staff College, narrowly defeated his only rival, Colin Daniels, chair of governors at Warrington Collegiate Institute.

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