The merger talks between Glasgow Metropolitan and Stow colleges could not be taking place in more inauspicious circumstances, as the former has become embroiled in a pay dispute.
Last week, members of the Educational Institute of Scotland began two days of strike action a week, which will continue and escalate to three days a week after Easter unless there is a resolution. The 100 per cent support for the action in a ballot of the lecturers was described by the union as "unprecedented".
It was thought an agreement had been reached through the conciliation service, Acas. The EIS had recommended acceptance, but it was thrown out by its members.
The proposed two-stage pay increase - 2.75 per cent backdated to August and 1 per cent from March - was a sticking point for lecturers. The top salary for most lecturers would have been pound;32,419, compared with maximum pay for unpromoted teachers of pound;31,866.
Acas also brokered an agreement on lecturers who retain conserved salaries, because they no longer hold promoted posts. Most are paid pound;3,900 more than their colleagues doing the same job, and the agreement was that they would be expected to undertake additional responsibilities to reflect that.
The Acas deal also included better starting salaries for new lecturers who would have started slightly higher up the salary scale, including those who did not have a teaching qualification.
There is discontent at the Met over the continuing differential in salary affecting those formerly employed at the Glasgow College of Food Technology, which merged with the Glasgow College of Building and Printing to form the Met. The top of the pay scale for former GCFT lecturers would have been pound;35,237 under the Acas deal, compared to pound;36,602 for other lecturers.
Tom Wilson, principal of the Met, said he was "disappointed that we have arrived at this situation" but hoped for further meetings with the union to reach agreement.
Ken Wimbor, EIS assistant secretary, said: "The college is in a healthy financial position, and lecturers are extremely disappointed that the college management has not seen fit to offer them a reasonable increase."