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Union sets date for strike

Union leaders this week set a November 16 date for a national strike of college lecturers in its battle for better pay for its members.

That is when Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, is due to address the Association of Colleges conference in Birmingham. Natfhe is asking its 42,000 members in colleges in England to join a protest rally at the conference.

The union is urging members to vote yes in a strike ballot which starts on October 14. Results will be announced on November 3.

The union has rejected an offer of 2.8 per cent for this year, furious that it is less than the 3.2 per cent offered to schoolteachers, who are already paid an estimated 10 per cent more than college lecturers.

Barry Lovejoy, Natfhe's head of colleges, said members were also furious that 65 per cent of the 387 colleges in England had still failed to implement last year's pay deal.

"Our members work tirelessly teaching a huge range of courses to a cross-section of their communities, only to be offered measly pay rises or be promised increases that never materialise.

"If the pay and funding gap grows, schools will get all the new recruits and colleges will stagnate."

One college in London this week staged a three-day strike over last year's pay deal. Staff at Westminster Kingsway college walked out last Thursday, their third walkout in the long-running dispute.

However, a two-day strike at a second college in the capital was called off at the 11th hour.

Lecturers at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London college, the biggest in the capital, suspended their action to consider a last-minute offer.

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