Lecturers picket college in pay plea

LESSONS were cancelled and doors closed as a strike crippled Suffolk College today .Lecturers union NATFHE, which represents college support staff, is holding a national one day strike triggered by what workers see as a poor pay deal.

LESSONS were cancelled and doors closed as a strike crippled Suffolk College today .

Lecturers union NATFHE, which represents college support staff, is holding a national one day strike triggered by what workers see as a poor pay deal.

Pickets gathered at the college gates from about 8am to demonstrate their growing anger at the gap between the pay of lecturers and teachers.

NATFHE officials say lecturers are deserting tertiary education in their droves, eager to cash in on the better conditions available in school teaching.


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Employers' organisation the Association of Colleges has offered a 2.3 per cent pay hike for college staff – an offer rejected by unions.

Nationally, a joint UNISON-NATFHE survey has claimed nearly two thirds of lecturing staff and up to three quarters of support staff are looking to leave colleges across the country.

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Paul Mackney, NATFHE general secretary, said: "The employers are proving incapable of resolving this dispute.

"We have done everything we can to get the employers back around the table to avoid disruption to our students' education."

Ian Cowley, spokesman for NATFHE at Suffolk College, said union members will be joining delegates at Norwich for a regional demonstration following the picket line protest.

He said the college's 220 union members were frustrated that pay had fallen far behind teachers' wages and hoped the protest would force the Government's hand.

The union claims lecturers' starting pay is about £14,500, with teachers earning about £3,000 more.

At the top end of scale, they can earn £28,000, which is around £3,800 behind schoolteachers.

"It is a big gap and it has opened up in the past two or three years, despite the promises of Government ministers," said Mr Cowley.

"We lost about 25 per cent of our staff last year because of it, and that's quite understandable when many are going to better-paid jobs. One lecturer joined a school and his pay rose by £5,000 instantly.

"Hopefully these protests will bring about some kind of result for us, because morale at the moment is not good."

Union members voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action in a national ballot – and all six national further education college unions have rejected the 2.3pc pay deal.

Members of Unison, the public service union, have joined the national action at scores of colleges, but those at Suffolk College are not taking part.

Cara Davani, the college's director of human resources, confirmed that all today's teaching had been cancelled, but added the college would still be open for students to use its facilities.

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