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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 29 May, 2002, 00:28 GMT 01:28 UK
Lecturers continue strike action
students
The two-day strike is affecting students
Disruption at up to 280 further education colleges across England and Wales continues, as lecturers stage a second day of strike action over pay.

The lecturers union Natfhe claims a 1.5% pay offer from the Association of Colleges (AoC) is "insulting" and up to 32,000 lecturers voted in favour of a two-day walkout.

Key survey findings
72% were over 45
28% were under 44
6% were under 35
56% earned less than 25,000
22% earned less than 15,000
Source: Natfhe
Natfhe members claim their pay lags too far behind that of school teachers, who received a 3.5% pay rise earlier this year.

Moreover, a study for the union found severe staff shortages are set to dog the sector, as more staff leave the profession or seek early retirement.

Researchers found 70% of lecturers who replied to a questionnaire who were aged between 45 and 65 and 63% were considering leaving the FE sector.

A total of 84% thought low pay affected college management's ability to recruit lecturers and other staff.

Over 4,000 questionnaires were distributed to FE lecturers by the Trade Union Research Unit at Oxford University's Ruskin College - 1,900 were completed and returned.

Demoralised

One lecturer wrote: "I have seen the conditions of staff, both monetary and job satisfaction, fall from a high level to 'rock bottom'."


Making the move into FE has been the worst career move I could have made

Lecturer
"I would strongly advise against anyone thinking of entering a career in further education."

Another respondent said: "I consider that making the move into FE has been the worst career move I could have made. I feel constantly stressed, overloaded and undervalued."

Paul Mackney, Natfhe general secretary said: "Lecturers are fed-up, angry and voting with their feet."

"Thousands will be striking today because they have had enough.

"Lecturers' pay is on average 12% less than schoolteachers' pay and all they've had are promises that things are going to get better - they haven't."

Government's fault

College chiefs blamed the government for the strike, saying the root problem was the financial crisis facing further education colleges across the country.

"Only a minority of college teaching staff are Natfhe members, and all colleges will do everything possible to minimise the impact of the strike on students," said Ivor Jones, AoC director of employment policy.


The fact is only one in three Natfhe members have voted to take strike action

Department for Education
"However, our own surveys confirm that many colleges are facing recruitment problems because of low pay.

"Government has to face up to its responsibility here urgently and stop starving colleges funds," he said.

The shadow education secretary Damian Green said: "Today's strike reflects the falling morale of teachers and staff in further and higher education.

"They have been driven to the brink by excessive government interference and micro-management, which is destroying their sense of professionalism.

"This is another blow to lifelong learning, following reports that the proportion of adults in learning has fallen back for the first time in seven years.

"The government's so-called strategy for lifelong learning is clearly failing."

'Damaging'

The Department for Education criticised Natfhe's decision to strike.

"Striking by lecturers will solve nothing and can only damage students and colleges," a spokeswoman said.

"The government is investing an additional 314m in further education this year compared with 2001-2 - a 5% real terms increase.

"The fact is only one in three Natfhe members have voted to take strike action," she said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Chris Ledgard
"There is mounting evidence of lecturers leaving the profession"
Further Education Minister Margaret Hodge
"We recognise we have to invest more"
See also:

17 May 02 | UK Education
28 May 02 | UK Education
17 Apr 02 | UK Education
23 Jan 02 | UK Education
17 May 02 | UK Education
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