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Strike action set for college staff

PUBLISHED: 23:45 21 September 2002 | UPDATED: 12:42 03 March 2010

INDUSTRIAL action that will affect hundreds of thousands of students today looked set to go ahead after college bosses refused to increase their 2.3 per cent pay offer to lecturers and other staff.

INDUSTRIAL action that will affect hundreds of thousands of students today looked set to go ahead.

College bosses refused to increase their 2.3 per cent pay offer to lecturers and other staff.

Suffolk College is awaiting details of a one-day strike announced for November 5. It comes after the Association of Colleges, which represents almost all the sixth form and general further education colleges in England and Wales, said there was no more money available to fund a pay increase.

Marilyn Watsham, assistant principal at Suffolk College, said staff had been made aware of a date. But she added: "We have not yet had formal notification of it at this stage. When we are notified we will take the relevant steps."

Principals blamed the government for not giving them more cash this year. The one per cent rise in their budgets promised in July's spending review will not be paid until April next year.

AoC director of employment policy Ivor Jones said: "I must stress, with regret, that the situation colleges find themselves in financially is no different than it was at the time the association made its final recommendation to the unions in the summer."

Five out of the six unions with members in further education colleges have balloted members on a one-day stoppage on November 5, or will do so before then.

They are angry that universities have offered just 3.5pc to their staff, while schoolteachers' pay has surged ahead in recent years.

Lecturers in Natfhe (the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers plus support staff from the GMB, Unison and the TGWU, are all likely to join the strike.

Barry Lovejoy of the unions' joint secretariat said they shared the AoC's view that the government was failing to fund colleges properly.

But he added: "This does not absolve the AoC from its responsibility as an employer and our members will be incensed, as will all further education staff."

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