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Unions reach split decision over terms

Conciliation talks between college lecturers and employers ended in mixed fortunes this week when one union reached a stalemate over working hours and another signed a two-year deal.

Discussions between the College Employers' Forum and the lecturers' union NATFHE collapsed when the two sides failed to accept each other's terms. On the eve of the union's annual conference in Torquay, officials predicted that the collapse of talks would lead to industrial action being stepped up.

The agenda is already dominated by claims of excessive workloads and redundancy threats. Almost 10,000 job cuts are looming over the next two years, according to a NATFHE survey published today.

But the Association of Teacher and Lecturers, which has a minority membership of 2,300 in further education colleges, negotiated a settlement which the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has agreed to monitor over the next two years before calling both sides back for a review.

Working hours will rise over two years, putting lecturers on a scale from 794 to 886 hours a year, depending on their job. A 37-hour week will include 23 to 27 hours maximum teaching time. Holiday entitlement is 37 days - two more than in the current CEF contract. It will apply to those transferring from Silver Book contracts.

The one-year notice period will be reduced to four months over five years. Those who sign will get the 2.9 per cent pay increase withheld last year. The extra holiday, redundancy notice and new working week will be written into existing CEF contracts.

But NATFHE remains unimpressed. It had offered to increase formal teaching hours for 1995-96 from 756 to 800, with monitoring and a review under ACAS after one year During the six-day hearing, however, employers sought to phase out maximum teaching hours. Over a period of three years they would rise from 756 to 940. After that there would be no contractual limits to teaching hours.

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