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Broken promises in our pay fight

I found the article on FE pay (FE Focus, October 12) sensational, misinformed in places and reminiscent of cold war red-baiting journalism. This was particularly disappointing since there are few newspaper articles dealing with pay in the FE sector.

Last year my college, Richmond upon Thames, sent more students to university than any other UK institution. We do the same work as school teachers, yet we receive thousands less. FE teachers were promised parity with school teachers' pay at the onset of the Labour government. A few ministers later we were told that the promise couldn't be implemented overnight. A few more ministers later, we're still waiting. Now we have been offered a cut in real pay - an "increase" below the rate of inflation.

UCU has conducted a major internal discussion to decide the way forward. That is democratic. Different views were expressed. Conference then decided by almost two to one to reject the AoC offer. That is also democratic. Now the membership as a whole will have their say in a ballot.

This will not stop FE support workers being paid. This idea, put forward in your columns, is ridiculous. In my college and many others FE teachers are being paid the AoC offer, let alone the support workers. Lecturers are, of course, taking the money while continuing their campaign. Support workers nationally have indicated that they are happy to settle on the terms they have been offered. Colleges should therefore pay them immediately.

I suggest that you go down to a few local colleges and talk to the lecturers. You might find differences on tactics. You won't find too many differences on the underlying issues. FE teachers are underpaid, promises have been perpetually broken and now we receive a pay cut. That is why we are faced with a fight on pay.

FE Focus will continue to report the pay issue as fully as possible. We asked to attend the delegates' conference but were refused entry - Editor.

BRIAN INGHAM - UCU LONDON FE CHAIR AND NEC MEMBER

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