DELEGATES representing members of the Natfhe lecturers' union in further education (FE) colleges voted to reject an offer on pay and conditions at a meeting last weekend. Over the summer Natfhe's FE college negotiators and the national executive committee narrowly agreed to ballot members and recommend a deal with the employers. This was after a campaign which included several days of strike action.
Opposition grew across colleges once the details of the proposed deal were spelled out. The vote last weekend means the ballot, which starts next week, will carry a recommendation to reject the offer. The offer is for a basic increase of 3 percent per year for two years and a new pay scale that will mean additional increases for some lecturers. There are no guarantees of automatic progress through the scale.
The deal goes nowhere near achieving parity with schoolteachers, which was the main slogan of our campaign. The average pay gap is now around 15 percent. The deal risks enshrining performance-related pay. It doesn't address London lecturers' claims for increased London weighting. Most delegates at last weekend's conference rejected the claims that throwing out the deal would mean the end of national pay bargaining.
This was despite speeches from general secretary Paul Mackney, the vice-president and other national figures urging acceptance. Some 40 percent of colleges have yet to fully implement the last pay deal. The leadership claimed that Natfhe would mount a 'vigorous campaign' to ensure full implementation of the deal. Delegates were sceptical because they had seen the head of steam built up through strike action last year allowed to seep away. Natfhe Rank and File, the left opposition group, needs to ensure that every member gets the real story on the latest pay offer.
Regions that oppose the deal need to circulate the truth about the offer to all their branches and to other regions, encouraging all branches to meet.
The secretary of Natfhe Rank and File can be contacted at JohnMurphy@longtonroad.freeserve.co.uk