LECTURERS are expected to press ahead with two days of strike action for more money to catch up with schoolteachers' pay, despite employers' insistence that the gap is a myth.
An Association of Colleges' pay analysis, putting college part-timers neck and neck with their school counterparts, has been dismissed by the lecturers' union NATFHE.
The union's national executive has rejected the AOC's 3.7 per cent offer. "We are recommending our members to reject the 3.7 per cent," said a union spokeswoman. "While it is the same as the teachers' settlement, there is no catch-up element.
"The AOC has failed to show us the evidence that there is no gap. Its figures are only for full-time lecturers and include highly-paid managers as part of the equation."
The spokeswoman said the AOC's calculation of lecturers' pay is "totally misleading", adding "recent pay research by the AOC and college unions put full-time lecturers' pay at pound;22,500". The AOC now claims that figure should be pound;25,000.
John Healey, lifelong learning minister, told the House of Commons that NATFHE's claim for an extra pound;3,000 was not on the cards.
"With one misleading statement, the AOC has opened the door for the Government to get off the hook," said Paul Mackney, NATFHE's general secretary.
The AOC is sticking by its figures, based on the average earnings of every full-timer in each sector who is eligible for the teachers' pension scheme. From the figures, you can "infer what the average looks like" for ordinary teachers in the two sectors, says John Brennan, the AOC's FE development director.
Mr Healey has agreed to visit Gloucestershire to meet principals and unions after one of the county's Labour MPs challenged the Government's position on lecturers' pay.
"It is time for FE to have the dress and go to the ball," Diana Organ, MP for the Forest of Dean, told him. "The poor pay comparison between FE and schools destroys morale."
She said new lecturers at Royal Forest of Dean College get pound;16,423, compared with pound;18,000 for school-teachers. After 10 years, lecturers can earn a maximum of pound;24,459 at the college, compared wih more than pound;30,000 for teachers.
"Nonsense" of the AOC's position on pay. FE letters, 38