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Lecturers picket over pay rise

HUNDREDS of lecturers across Kent were on strike today in protest against poor pay. Many staff members at colleges in the county failed to turn up to classes while a large number joined picket lines to show their disgust at a 1.5 per cent pay rise recommended by the Association of Colleges.

More than 250 lecturers from the colleges joined the national strike claiming they are underpaid compared to teachers. They say the 1.5 per cent offer will not help narrow the gap.

Medway councillor Teresa Murray, the Medway representative for the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, stood on the picket line, outside the Rochester campus in City Way, alongside five lecturers and handed out leaflets.

She said: "No one wants to disadvantage the children but we feel that we do a good job and our professionalism should be recognised in our pay, the same way as teachers."

Currently college lecturers can earn between £16,000 and £19,000 when they first start, while a school teacher can earn up to £20,000, quickly rising to £30,000.

Cllr Murray said: "We are very disappointed with the Association of Colleges. They pledged that by 2004 the gap between teachers and lecturers would be reduced. At the moment it is 10 per cent. With this 1.5 per cent pay rise they will not close the gap by 2004." Cllr Murray is worried the lack of pay may put off young graduates.

Spokesman for the college, Roy Robertson, said students would not be affected by the action.

"We have just introduced more appropriate management," he stressed. "We have jiggled around the staffing to make sure all the classes are covered."

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