Lecturers set for further strikes

HUNDREDS of lecturers at two Suffolk further education institutions are set to strike again over pay, the Evening Star can reveal. National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) members have voted for a two-day strike on May 2 and May 3.

HUNDREDS of lecturers at two Suffolk further education institutions are set to strike again over pay, the Evening Star can reveal.

National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) members have voted for a two-day strike on May 2 and May 3. The move follows previous industrial action over pay on November 16 last year.

Expected to affect colleges across the UK, up to 300 NATFHE members at Otley College and Suffolk College, in Ipswich, are likely to take part in the UK-wide walk out.

The decision to strike is the latest development in a campaign by NATFHE members to be paid in line with school teachers.

NATFHE leaders have rejected a 1.5 per cent pay increase offered by employers as “insulting” and a “slap in the face” after submitting a seven pc pay rise claim.

Barry Lovejoy, NATFHE's head of colleges, said: “Our reasonable offer to resolve this dispute has been scorned by the employers. We have no option but to send out a robust response that college staff will not be ignored. This will be the start of a programme of escalating industrial action up to and including indefinite strike action.

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“A healthy college is one where staff morale and motivation is high but a 1.5pc pay offer sends out the message to staff that they are not worth investing in.”

Otley College bosses said the college's NATFHE representatives had still to decide what action they would be taking.

The college principal, Philip Winfield, said, “If industrial action were to occur, Otley College's main focus is to reassure all our staff and students that disruption will be minimised and contingency plans will be put in place.

“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.”

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Association of Colleges (AoC) - an organisation that promotes the interests of further education colleges in England and Wales - has today responded to the NATFHE decision to strike.

Sue Dutton, AoC deputy chief executive, said: “AoC is very disappointed that NATFHE have decided on this premature and disruptive course of action so early in negotiations, after just one meeting of the National Joint Forum.

“AoC has yet to receive notification of the ballot arrangements and is still in consultation with its membership regarding affordability, given the difficult funding climate.

“That process will continue until 9 May, when we reconvene talks with NATFHE and the other unions of the NJF. “Contrary to Natfhe's claims, AoC and member colleges are very conscious of the impact of pay on colleges' ability to recruit and retain good staff.”