Natfhe lecturers’ union members are being urged to vote “yes” for strike action in a ballot over college employers latest dismal pay offer. The ballot began on Friday of last week.
The employers are offering a 2 percent pay offer from 1 August and a further 0.8 percent in January.
Not only does this derisory offer fall well short of the union’s claim for 7 percent, it is a significant step backwards from achieving parity with school teachers. The gap now stands at 10 percent.
Only 35 percent of employers have implemented the 2003/4 pay award. This introduced a new harmonised pay spine, allowing the lowest paid staff to climb the salary scale quicker. Other colleges have not yet got last year’s 3 percent cost of living award.
This strike ballot comes at the time when the government is making a 3 percent cut in funding in adult learning courses. Already thousands of courses have been cut, jobs have been lost and fees for courses have increased.
The funding gap between schools and further education colleges is also widening.
The funding gap between schools and colleges means that an average of £400 less is spent on a college student a year compared to a school student.
It is clear that, locally and nationally, the employers and the government are raising the stakes on pay and funding.
At the Natfhe union conference last summer motions were passed criticising the national leadership for moving away from national action.
The leadership then made clear its support for escalated action over pay and funding.
A massive campaign involving workplace rallies and escalated strike action must be launched alongside the balllot.
If the ballot over pay is successful the first day of action should take place on Wednesday 16 November. A national rally on funding has been called for the same day.