Strike threat looms at college

LECTURERS at Suffolk College are poised to go on strike tomorrow in a dispute over a pay claim.More than 600 staff at the college are affected by the pay claim and a last-minute meeting will be held at lunchtime today by the lecturers' union to consider the college's proposals to discuss the dispute.

LECTURERS at Suffolk College are poised to go on strike tomorrow in a dispute over a pay claim.

More than 600 staff at the college are affected by the pay claim and a last-minute meeting will be held at lunchtime today by the lecturers' union to consider the college's proposals to discuss the dispute.

The dispute relates to the 2004/05 pay claim and proposed ''harmonised pay spine'' to which other colleges who are members of the Association of Colleges (AoC) have agreed.

Suffolk College is not a member of the AoC, but the college's branch of the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education (NATFHE) wants to retain parity with other further education colleges.


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Steven Phipps, lecturer and college branch chairman, said the college had offered a rise this year of three per cent.

But the annual award was approximately eleven months adrift because the annual increases due in August at the start of the academic year were not being paid until the following June/July and not being back-dated. NATFHE wanted the college to move the date of increases back towards the beginning of the academic year.

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He said the harmonised pay scales would cost the college money in the short term, but if implemented they would give a clear career path for staff and would allow lecturing staff to progress up their section of the scale in eight years instead of 14.

Mr Phipps added: ''We are also looking for pay parity between college lecturers and school teachers. Most people are surprised to find that there is a disparity, they tend to think it is lecturers who earn more. In reality, the wider issue is that the government is underfunding FE colleges."

Suffolk College NATFHE members were balloted by an independent scrutineer on two courses of action. A slim majority voted in favour of strike action, but the ballot also approved action short of a strike by a large majority. The college was unavailable for comment.

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