Colleges face strike threat

HUNDREDS of college lecturers in Suffolk are today preparing to vote in a strike ballot over pay, a union has warned.Up to 300 members of the university and college lecturer's union NATFHE - at Suffolk College, in Ipswich, and at Otley College are expected to take part in Friday's ballot.

HUNDREDS of college lecturers in Suffolk are today preparing to vote in a strike ballot over pay, a union has warned.

Up to 300 members of the university and college lecturer's union NATFHE - at Suffolk College, in Ipswich, and at Otley College are expected to take part in Friday's ballot.

NATFHE's head of colleges, Barry Lovejoy, said: “Pay chaos has reigned in colleges for far too long. “By accepting this year's pitiful pay offer, NATFHE would have effectively been giving the green light for the scandalous gap between college lecturers and schoolteachers to grow even bigger.

“To add insult to injury, lecturers at 65pc of colleges haven't even had last year's rise.”


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A NATFHE spokesman said: “If the ballot results in a 'yes' vote, there will be a national one-day strike in November.”

The ballot was prompted by a 2.8 per cent pay offer made by college employers to lecturers for the academic year 2005 - 2006, the spokesman said.

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Suffolk College bosses today said the college cannot afford to meet the union's demands.

A statement issued by the collge said: “NATFHE seeks a pay award of 7pc from August 2005. We believe this claim has been put to Colleges across the country.

“The claim considerably exceeds our ability to pay and we believe many other Colleges also unable to meet NATFHE's demands.

“We paid our staff a cost of living award of 3pc from July 2005 and have budgeted to pay a further 2.8pc from next July. We believe these to be reasonable pay awards.

“NATFHE represents approximately 25pc of staff at Suffolk College. There are two further recognised trade unions and neither has indicated any dissatisfaction regarding this year's pay award.”

Suffolk College principal Dave Muller said: “We understand this is nationally orchestrated industrial action and that NATFHE plan to take strike action on November 16.

“If there is a strike on that day the College will strive to minimise the impact on our students.”

Otley College principal Philip Winfield said: “The welfare and education of our students is our primary concern and we are working hard to ensure that minimal disruption takes place to college life, whatever the outcome of the ballot.”

He added: “We are proud of all of our staff and we always try and ensure that they are rewarded fairly for the all the work that they undertake and this will continue to be the case.”

Are you paid enough? Are you considering strike action? What do you think? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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