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College staff strike over pay

TAKING ACTION: Pickets outside Mid Kent College. Picture: JOHN WARDLEY
TAKING ACTION: Pickets outside Mid Kent College. Picture: JOHN WARDLEY

MEDWAY students missed out on classes today as college staff went on strike over pay. The action, which included Mid-Kent College campuses at Rochester and Chatham, sees college staff protesting at a 2.3 per cent pay offer.

Staff from across the board united -including lecturers, administrators, clerical staff, secretaries and porters - to demand a pay increase that reflects the same wage as thse of teachers at schools across the county.

Teresa Murray, manager of the basic and key skills department at the City Way campus, Rochester, said staff were looking for "parity with teachers".

He added: "We are effectively doing the same job as teachers, but for less pay. We want to keep the staff we have got, but they are being attracted away to schools. We want to keep the good colleagues we have got."

Peter Ledger, an IT lecturer who was at today's protest outside the college, highlighted the need for parity of pay among staff by commenting that the event was "drawing notice to the fact that we have to take the same qualifications as teachers".

The Association of Colleges, the employer's body who represent almost all sixth form and general further education colleges in England and Wales, insists there is no more money available to fund a pay increase

Today's action has also gained support from Chatham and Aylesford MP, Jonathan Shaw, who has written to Ministers and spoken of his agreement that staff pay should be improved.

He said: "Further education is absolutely crucial if we are to improve the skills of the workforce. Further education provides a springboard for students to go into higher education."

David Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said that the action was unavoidable. He stressed: "Two-thirds of our further education members earn less than £13,000 a year. The employers offer is worth just 13p an hour for those on £10,500."

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