Sixth-form college teachers are being asked to accept an annual pay rise of 2.57 per cent in an attempt to stave off job losses and college bankruptcies.
The three main unions represented in the pay talks have agreed to take the proposal back to members, despite pressing for more money to keep in line with the schoolteachers' pay award of 2.7 per cent announced earlier this year.
The increase will be implemented in three phases. Two per cent will be paid from April 1 to July 31, rising by a further 0.8 per cent from August 1 to the end of February next year.
The final phase of 0.4 per cent will be brought in from March 1 to August 1, making a total rise of 2.73 per cent over the 16 months of the agreement.
The deal means that college teachers' pay will not be reviewed again until August 1996.
Gerald Imison, deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said the unions were forced to accept the settlement put forward by the Sixth Form Colleges' Employers' forum.
"We were not happy with what was on offer in general terms but we had to accept that in the difficult situation being faced by colleges it was probably the best deal that could be struck.
"We are certainly in a position to recommend it to our members, although whether they will accept is a matter for them and we will abide by their decision.
"We had concerns that to urge for a higher increase may have put huge financial pressures on colleges leading to bankruptcies and more job losses, " said Mr Imison He added that early figures in an ATL survey on redundancies around the country suggested up to 2,500 job losses.
He did not expect the sixth-form settlement to have any implications on the further education pay negotiations which have not yet begun.
However, John Akker, general secretary of the college lecturers' union NATFHE, said that the sixth-form settlement brought attention to the substantial number of FE lecturers left behind in the pay stakes because they were still in dispute over their contracts of employment.
He said future FE pay negotiations were "bound up" in current conciliation.