Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Thursday, 24 April 2008 12:18 UK

Lecturers stage strike action

Students in lecture
Ministers say students will lose out

Further education college lecturers are taking strike action at the same time as school teachers and other public sector workers.

The University and College Union (UCU), representing lecturers in England, says there is "widespread disruption".

Staff in more than 250 colleges are taking action in a campaign for a 6% pay rise.

Ministers say it is disappointing they are taking action before the planned round of pay negotiations has begun.

There are picket lines at many colleges and lecturers are joining forces with teachers from the NUT at rallies across England.

The UCU claims 47% of further education colleges have still not implemented the new pay scales agreed nationally four years ago.

The lecturers' union says a 6% pay increase will bring members' salaries up to the level of school teachers.

It fears a staffing crisis may be emerging in the sector, with estimates that 200,000 new teaching staff will be needed by 2014.

Ultimately it is students who suffer and whose learning is disrupted
Bill Rammell, further education minister

Many lecturers are due to retire and it will be difficult to replace them because salary packages will not be enough to attract graduate candidates to the role, says the union.

Sally Hunt, the UCU's general secretary, says the "treatment of further education staff is a scandal. Pay has been further eroded by below-inflation pay awards".

"The considerable difference in the average pay of lecturers and teachers doing the same work is grossly unfair.

"It is more than four years since further education employers agreed to move lecturers to the same length pay scales as school teachers but 47% of colleges still haven't done that," said the college union leader.

Criticism

The UCU has submitted a pay claim for a 6% increase or 1,500, whichever is greater.

Among those members who voted, the union says 65.5% supported strike action over pay - in a turn-out of 38.6%.

Further education minister Bill Rammell expressed his regret that staff felt the need to go on strike.

He said: "It is disappointing that college lecturers have decided to take this action and that it is taking place before the planned round of pay negotiations have begun.

"Ultimately it is students who suffer and whose learning is disrupted. Over the past ten years this government's investment in the FE sector has increased by 52 per cent in real terms.

"I would urge the University and College Union and the Association of Colleges to use the proposed negotiations due to being on 1 May to ensure that students' learning is not disrupted further."

The one-day strike has been criticised by college employers. Sue Dutton of the Association of Colleges said: "The action is unprecedented as it is being called before national pay negotiations have even begun."


A selection of your comments

I have been working as a lecturer for the past 4 years and my pay is currently 20,000 PA. I pay rent of 495/month and end up 500+ in overdraft every month. I cannot remember a time when I was in credit for more than a few weeks in a given month. With a government increasingly demanding more from FE colleges and encouraging more young people than ever before to attend post-16 education it beggars belief that pay can be so low.
SH, York

I have worked as a lecturer in the FE sector for ten years, and completed all the qualifications required by the Government to QTS, and feel deflated and grieved that the government are not planning to close the gap between school and college teaching wages. I now find myself teaching the same subject, to the same age groups, with the same qualification, and yet earning 5-6000 less than my friends teaching in local schools. The situation is a farce, and unless we strike, or leave the profession, we seem to have little influence over the government
Marc

The government has never explained why college lecturers, who do exactly the same job as school teachers, are paid so much less. The college I work at has just spent 400,000 on a new computer system that doesn't work and is about to embark on a needless, cosmetic "refit" of the college buildings that will see students being taught in portakabins for three years. The money is there - there is no doubt about that - it just doesn't find its way into the salaries of FE lecturers who are the ones keeping these places going!
Peter

As a lecturer, I deliver qualifications equal to those delivered by school teachers but am paid less that they are. I also deliver qualifications equal to those delivered by university lecturers but again I am paid less than they are. Don't even mention the disparity in conditions of service.
Slav

I am a semi-retired lecturer who draws his teachers' pension as well as working part-time at a college. The pension part of my income has had an increase of 3.9%, as increases are determined by the Retail Prices Index. My lecturing part of my income will probably only go up by 2% - the employers will not negotiate until May. So one part of government accepts that income should go up in line with RPI and the other will not accept that wages also need to go up by RPI.
David

As a further education lecturer I am expected to teach both 14 year-old schoolchildren and adult evening classes; GCSE one minute and degree-level the next. It is insulting that a fresh-out-of-training schoolteacher gets paid more than someone with identical qualifications and several years' industrial (and teaching) experience.
John



SEE ALSO
Strike disrupting 8,000 schools
24 Apr 08 |  Education
Lecturers to join one-day strike
14 Apr 08 |  Education
Teachers vote to hold pay strike
02 Apr 08 |  Education
Strike 'may shut half of schools'
03 Apr 08 |  Education
Teacher union leader Sinnott dies
07 Apr 08 |  Education

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