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Rookie strikers join fight for pay

Lecturers at 13 colleges have voted overwhelmingly to strike for the first time over pay.

The new strikers will join staff from eight other colleges next Wednesday in a bid to secure a nationally-agreed pay rise.

Natfhe, the lecturers' union, said the newcomers had declined to join the series of one-day strikes that began last December because they were confident of reaching an agreement with their colleges, but their patience has now run out.

The union said 80 per cent of its members at the 13 colleges voted in favour of joining the fight to get the full terms of a pay deal drawn up two years ago.

Under the deal, between Natfhe and the Association of Colleges, they should have received a 3 per cent increase and a new pay scale last September.

Although the deal was national, it was up to individual colleges to implement it, but at the 21 colleges the agreement has still not been put into practice.

Barry Lovejoy, Natfhe's head of colleges, said: "Our members at tshese 13 colleges have not rushed into being balloted for industrial action.

"They have been very patient and declined to join earlier ballots in the mistaken belief that their management would pay them the agreed increases.

"But after 10 months of waiting, their patience is exhausted."

The latest colleges to join the action are Basingstoke, Sussex Downs, Southampton, South Birmingham, Sandwell, North Lindsey, Joseph Priestley, Grimsby, West Nottinghamshire, North Notts, Southwark, Orpington, and North East London college.

Mr Lovejoy added: "The deal agreed two years ago was designed to bring pay into the 21st century, and to bring college lecturers on to a level playing field with schoolteachers.

"This disruption could very easily be avoided because all Natfhe is asking for is a commitment from college management to sit down and talk to the union about implementing the new pay scale."

Natfhe also blamed the Government for the delays in putting the pay deal into practice and said it had created continued uncertainty over college funding.

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