Lecturers in 82 further education colleges were balloting this week for a strike over pay. The dispute is over the failure by 70 percent of colleges to implement the nationally negotiated 2003/4 pay award.
There were two parts to the deal — a 3 percent pay increase and a second tranche that would introduce a new pay spine to allow many staff to get to a higher pay level more quickly.
It is this second, more important part of the deal that most college managements have refused to implement.
FE lecturers have seen their wages fall 10 percent behind those of school teachers over the past five years. This fight is not only about pay, it is also about defending national bargaining. This is why many members feel this dispute is also a test for the Natfhe union as a whole.
Many members are angry that the national leadership has only called out 82 colleges rather than all of the members.
We need to make sure that there is a massive vote for strike action this week and that in those colleges not on strike there are collections and delegations to picket lines on 24 February, the planned strike day.