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Taking action in higher education

Lecturers in Northern Ireland reject 'derisory' pay offer

15 August 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

The long-running pay dispute in Northern Ireland's further education sector looks set to escalate following the union's rejection of a 'derisory' pay offer at a meeting of the Lecturers' Negotiating Committee (LNC) yesterday.

Lecturers have been taking industrial action, including seven strike days, since May 2006. UCU has been campaigning for pay parity with teachers in schools but agreements reached with the employers in 2004 have not been implemented because of the government's public sector pay policy. Lecturers have had no pay increase since September 2005.

At the LNC the employers stated they had approval from government to offer 2% plus a cash payment of £190 for the 2006/07 pay round with a reduction in the salary scales which would benefit a small number of lecturers. They said they could not offer an upper pay spine, as applies to teachers, and they had no approval to make any offer in respect of the pay award due on 1 September 2007.

Speaking following the meeting with the employers, UCU's regional official Jim McKeown said: 'Lecturers will be sickened by this derisory offer. It is a year overdue and it is the lowest offer made to any education workers in the UK in the 2006 pay round. It is below inflation for the year and, in reality, amounts to a pay cut. The non-consolidated £190 is an insult. There is no move on the issue of pay parity with teachers and no response to our claim for 2007.

'Minister Reg Empey - who had said he supports pay parity and that the lecturers' case is justified - could have righted the great wrong done to lecturers by the failure of the employers to honour commitments given long before the government pay policy was introduced. This pay cut compounds the injury.'

The union is issuing advice to members to maintain industrial action short of strike when they resume college duties after the summer break. UCU branch representatives will meet early in September to decide the next steps in the industrial action.

UCU represents over 2000 lecturers in Northern Ireland's six area-based colleges.