The latest strike action in the long running pay dispute between college lecturers’ union Natfhe and college managements—who have failed to honour a two year pay deal — took place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.
The previous strike on 24 February forced a number of local managements to discuss implementation of the deal. But about 30 Natfhe branches were set to strike this week or immediately after the Easter break in colleges where managements have not moved.
The union’s leadership is coming under increasing criticism for its willingness to pull branches out of action on flimsy promises of talks about implementing the deal. They have also put pressure on local branches to accept less than the full deal, or deals with strings attached.
All of these undermine the union’s policy of a return to national pay scales and conditions in colleges.
Delegates to the union’s special sector conference on Saturday of last week agreed to endorse action up to indefinite strikes to win implementation of this deal, which would lead to significant pay improvements for most college lecturers.
But it will still leave us underpaid compared to school teachers, and the conference also agreed a pay claim for next year which has parity with them as a central demand.
Colleges due to take action this week were Nelson and Colne, Chesterfield, Bradford, City College Manchester, Preston, Tresham Institute, Sheffield, Rother Valley, Rotherham College of Arts and Technology, Bishop Auckland, Newcastle, Norwich, Suffolk, Burton, Fircroft College, Hereward, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Wolverhampton. A number of London colleges were due to strike on 13 and 14 April.
These colleges need the support of those which are not presently taking action.
The Natfhe lecturers’ union at London Metropolitan University has called for a resumption of an academic boycott of the college following management’s refusal to negotiate a new contract.
The aim is to launch initiatives in stages to progressively increase the scope and effectiveness of the boycott.
Steve Cushion, Natfhe London Region HE secretary