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Teaching staff in pay walkout.

THOUSANDS of Merseyside students were missing lectures today as college teaching and support staff strike over pay.

The national strike is a joint action from NAFTHE - National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education - and Unison, the support workers union.

Tom Bimpson, NATFHE spokesman and French lecturer at Liverpool Community College, said college staff were picketing since 7am and asking students not to cross their picket lines.

He said: ``We are taking this action because the pay offer of 2.3% is below what is acceptable. It compares with 3.5% which school teachers and university lecturers have been offered and we are already 12% behind school teachers' pay.''

Norma Brown, Unison regional officer, said: ``The employers seem to have forgotten the plight of dedicated FE college staff who have become the poor relations of the education sector.''

The principal of Southport College, Brian Mitchell, said the further education sector is seriously under-funded.

But he added: ``However, I do not believe this national strike will help our cause and only damage the government's confidence in colleges.''

Up to 60,000 lecturers, porters, clerical staff, secretaries and administrators plan to strike nationally after the Association of Colleges, which represents almost all sixth form and further education colleges, said there is no money left for a rise.

Merseyside colleges expected to be affected include Liverpool Community College, Knowsley Community College, Southport College, Merseyside Open College, St Helens College, Warrington Collegiate and Skelmersdale College.

CAPTION(S):

LINE OF FIRE: Pickets outside Liverpool Community College this morning; Picture: MARTIN BIRCHALL
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Nov 5, 2002
Words:257
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