Strike looms over contracts

COLLEGE lecturers are being balloted for possible strike action after a national conference of their union this week rejected a new framework for contracts by more than two to one.

All further education lecturers in NATFHE will now be balloted on whether they accept the draft agreement or support strike action. If the strength of feeling at the national conference is reflected in the ballot, a further vote for action will be taken. If lecturers back the call action would begin with a five-day strike in January.

Paul Mackney, general secretary of the lecturers' union NATFHE, said: "The strength of feeling against the deal shows the trust that has gone in the sector over the past five years since incorporation."

With just over half the 359 branches represented at the London conference, more than two-thirds rejected the deal, which puts the range of weekly teaching hours at 22 to 27 and the teaching year at maximum 880 hours. The same proportion backed a ballot for strike action.

A brief meeting with representatives of the Association of Colleges after the conference suggested that any reduction in maximum hours would be unlikely. But a full meeting on union and employer negotiators will be held next week. The ballot result will be announced on October 26.

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