Staff who remain on the old local education authority conditions of service are entitled to an extra three weeks' holiday under the European Union directive on working time, lecturers' unions claim.
They argue that since the employers have excluded the 14 weeks' leave when calculating deductions for strike action, the employers should, therefore, include the required minimum three weeks' leave under European regulations in the 38 weeks in which they are "employed".
The Association of Colleges has challenged the interpretation by the lecturers' union, NATFHE, and the new smaller union LEAF (Lecturer Employment Advice and Action Fellowship). It insists that the deductions relate not to strike pay but to "a breach of contract".
A draft letter from employers to the unions has been sent out to all AOC member colleges. The association argues that colleges do not come under the direct control of the state in the way claimed by the unions.