Lecturers get tough over pay proposals

26th January 2001 at 00:00
NATFHE is calling for an immediate pound;3,000 pay increase, reports Ian Nash

COLLEGE employers this week unveiled pay proposals which could give at least 75,000 lecturers and teaching support staff increases of up to pound;2,000 over the next two years.

But it coincides with a hardening of attitudes among lecturers, who this week called for a bigger settlement than the current government-funded pay initiative will allow.

The lecturers' union, NATFHE, is demanding an immediate pound;3,000 across-the-board increase. It also wants a four-year strategy to bring college pay into line with schools, claiming that they will earn between pound;5,000 and pound;9,000 a year less than teachers with threshold pay.

Details of how the Association of Colleges sees the pound;150 million - set aside by government to restructure pay over two years - being distributed are contained in a consultation paper.

Two sets of conditions are attached to the payment. The first element (pound;800 - pound;1,000) would require staff to have an appropriate teaching qualification and evidence of continuing professional development.

The second element (also pound;800-pound;1,000) would go to people who can demonstrate their contribution to raising standards. For example, they might be a mentor to colleagues or involved in the successful wider dissemination of good practice.

The latter increment would be available to "teams" as well as individuals - reflecting the co-operative nature of many learning programmes in colleges.

David Gibson, chief executive of the AOC, said: "We are making every endeavour to be as inclusive as possible. This is for all staff in teaching and learning."

However, the rise would not be automatic. "Everyone should have access to these payments but individual colleges must have some flexibility over how this is implemented.

The package will be pt to an AOC members' consultation meeting next Friday and, if approved, will be the basis for continued negotiations with the unions and Department for Education and Employment.

Mr Gibson stressed the importance of continued DFEE involvement. "This package includes teaching support staff. But we will continue to press for better rewards for all college staff, including staff supporting college business."

The AOC believed that most college staff would find it a good offer, he said. It addressed the question of college lecturers' pay, relative to that of schoolteachers and would offer improvements for part-timers, particularly those who are hourly-paid.

However, a national conference of NATFHE this week rejected any measures which smacked of performance-related pay.

NATFHE general secretary, Paul Mackney, said: "There was an explosion of feeling where people expected by the end of this Government to have had things sorted out in FE."

Mr Mackney admitted to being "somewhat surprised" at the strength of feeling among the membership. "Negotiations with the employers will continue. But we have been promised jam tomorrow now for three years and our members' patience has reached an end."

There is much agreement between the employers and unions. Mr Mackney said:

"We agree that qualifications should be rewarded and money should go to supporting part-timers. But we want to see an opening-up of the senior lecturers'scale.

"The second element of the AOC proposals is about PRP and we still want to know how part-time staff will benefit. After all,these are up to 50 per cent of the workforce."

There is a tight timetable. If lecturers are to benefit from pay proposals, the new framework needs to ready for August 1.

Still a hill to climb, 32-33,Newcastle strike story see www.tesfefocus.co.uk

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