FURTHER education lecturers may start the new term with a ballot for industrial action after pay and conditions negotiations with employers foundered on teaching hours.
Lecturers' union Natfhe is to consider possible courses of action following the breakdown of the 1997-98 lecturer and senior lecturer pay and conditions negotiations with the Association of Colleges. The AoC says it has no intention of changing its present offer.
Natfhe had called for a flat-rate increase of Pounds 30 a week for all lecturers and a catch-up element for those staff still on pre-incorporation Silver Book contracts.
The union demanded a national framework that would limit the number of hours staff might be expected to teach. Silver Book contracts set maximum working hours.
Natfhe spokeswoman Brenda Kirsch said: "No one is saying we want to return to Silver Book contracts. All we are asking for is a national framework which would protect staff in local agreements. It's a safety net."
The association, representing college employers, offered a 2.5 per cent increase in pay with no catch-up for Silver Book staff. It refused to agree to the union's claim for national conditions.
Marcia Roberts, director of professional services for the AoC, said: "Natfhe is living three or four years in the past. Only 8 per cent of staff are on Silver Book contracts and yet their whole focus is on them."
Ms Roberts pointed out that Natfhe had accepted a similar 2.5 per cent offer for its management pay level members. She said that the Association of Teachers and Lecturers had accepted the offer for lecturing staff, and three unions representing manual and support staff had accepted their offers.