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2 June 2005

FE lecturers fight for pay deal

ON 25 May, lecturers at some further education colleges were on strike, just to get the national pay agreement implemented in their colleges. .

Bill Mullins interviewed Ben Bruges, NATFHE representative at Southwark College, Rotherhithe campus, in south London:

"The college management is attempting to make us work even longer hours as the price for implementing the national pay agreement. We have an agreed ceiling of doing 23 hours teaching time a week, which with preparation time means we already work in excess of 40 hours a week.

Now the management wants us to lift the ceiling and in effect to take extra classes rather than increase the number of teachers, as the numbers of pupils grow.

The chair of our governors, Margaret Morgan, is also the national chair of the employer's side. She negotiated the national pay deal part two with our union and now wants to add conditions to it before it is implemented in Southwark."

The pickets were handing out leaflets explaining how the lecturers were fighting for the students as well as themselves. Many of the students coming into the college were from overseas, particularly Africa. For them a strike was something that was not allowed in their own countries. "Some of them expressed fear for the lecturers as a result of the strike," added Ben.

East Midlands

Pickets at the Derby Road site of West Notts College spoke to Jon Dale:

"Staff here are really committed. We care deeply about the students. It's sad that we had to come out on strike."

"We have the lowest holidays of any college in the region. New staff get just 30 days a year, but everybody varies in how much they get.

"We teach hundreds of school students here, some of them have been expelled from school and have emotional and behavioural difficulties. But we get less pay than school teachers. Now management are talking about sending us into schools to teach - still on less money. They've no chance of us doing that!

"Some support staff have supported the strike today, even though they're not in a union and have lost a day's pay. A dozen lecturers have joined the union in the past week, since the ballot, so that they could come out on strike."