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Colleges hit hard by strike action again

16 October 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

Teaching at Northern Ireland's 16 further education colleges virtually ceased for the fourth time in recent weeks as college lecturers today solidly supported their unions call for strike action.

UCU called the strike as another step in the lecturers' long running campaign for pay parity with teachers in schools. The strike is in addition to a widespread work-to-rule and withdrawal of goodwill across the colleges. The union also held a lunchtime picket at the Department for Employment and Learning's (DEL) headquarters in Belfast.

The college employers have agreed that lecturers should have pay parity with schoolteachers and both sides have agreed a mechanism for implementation with backdating to September 1, 2005. The employers say that they need government approval to implement the package. Lecturers in Wales have pay parity with schoolteachers.

Jim McKeown, UCU regional official in Northern Ireland, said: 'Our members are very solidly behind this. They are determined to ensure that they get fair pay and parity with schoolteachers. College lecturers in Northern Ireland are the only group of education workers affected by this so-called 'government pay cap'. That is unfair.

'The employers have made no pay offer for this year and government has been sitting for several months on a joint proposal for an upper pay spine similar to that which applies in schools. Decisions on these are long overdue. Our members interests are tangled up in government bureaucracy with no end in sight. They are treated like pawns in some government game.

'This helps nobody. Students are losing out and lecturers are becomingly increasingly alienated from those who run the colleges. This is all at a time when the sector faces massive restructuring and needs the goodwill of its teachers. We need more than 'some sympathy' from the Minister. We need a fair settlement - and now.'

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