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Unions call for action on staff pay

UNIONS and employers have issued a joint appeal to the new Government calling for substantial improvements in lecturers' pay.

David Gibson, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said excellent staff were leaving for better-paid jobs outside colleges and this impacted on quality. "All our staff, not only teachers, need better pay."

He also warned that colleges could not continue to be funded at "bargain basement rates" and said the association would continue to press this message over the coming months. "We want our colleges, staff and four million students to enjoy the same level of resources as schools and universities. Our funding levels have only just been restored to 1996-97," he said.

Peter Smith, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said a concerted effort to raise teacher morale must be at the top of the agenda. "It's no good dismissing teachers as close harmony whingers. Raising morale will not occur as a fortuitous side-effect of millennial vision.

"Teaching must become a profession more attractive to join than leave."

Paul Mackney, general secretary of the lecurers' union NATFHE, said yesterday's victory gave the Government the opportunity to expand further and higher education. "Last term, the Government recognised the problem, this term we expect action.

"We want substantial increases in core funding for college and universities, and earmarked funding to raise lecturers' pay across the board. Good employment practices for part-timers and limits on fixed-term contracts, backed by the Government, could be the beginning of the end of casualisation."

But a warning shot was delivered by employers over a rumoured break-up of the Department for Education and Employment. Tom Bewick, director of policy and communications of the NTO national council, said any change must be handled carefully. "Since the last shake-up in 1994, a sceptical employer community has become convinced of the value of a government department that brings together the world of education with the world of work. It would be a great pity if this were lost and things reverted back to a schools department."

The TESis giving away 101 laptops. College lecturers can enter the scheme. Friday Magazine, 6

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