Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Butler outlines support for FE lecturers

18 June, 2007

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson, Paul Butler MLA has set out the parties support for Further Education Lecturers pay parity with school teachers and for an end to their pay being determined by the British Government's public sector pay policy.

Speaking to the Sinn Féin motion on the issue Mr Butler said:

"This is about giving our support to Further Education lecturers in their campaign for pay parity with schoolteachers. The dispute over pay has not been resolved despite there being numerous negotiations over the last number of years. Unless the lecturer's dispute over pay is resolved quickly there could well be an escalation of industrial action and disruption of our Further Education Colleges.

"At a time when we are seeing significant and far reaching changes in the Further Education sector this ongoing dispute if it is not resolved will also have an impact on lecturers' morale and the delivery of a first class education service.

"The FE sector is recognised as a key to helping deliver a vision of a thriving and buoyant economy. They have an important role to play in supporting the economic and social life here. They provide a second opportunity for education and encourage those who are unemployed or socially excluded or disengaged to participate in education and training.

"Already good lecturing staff are leaving and experienced teachers and well-qualified staff from industry and business backgrounds will not join the sector.

"Central to this dispute is the issue of college lecturers pay being decided by the British Treasury and its Public Sector Pay Policy. This has prevented college lecturers being paid similar pay scales to those teachers in the post primary education sector, whose pay scales are not linked to the Treasury's Public Sector Pay Policy.

"The current arrangements whereby all salary costs are governed by the Treasury's Public Sector Pay Policy should be ended and the Stormont Executive should push to have this policy ended and for DEL in conjunction with DFP to decide pay scales for FE lecturers.

"This is not about a lack of finance in the Department. The Minister for Employment and Learning has already made it clear that money is not the obstacle to a settlement but a political decision.

"This is an issue where the needs of the Treasury based in London are dictating how this group of workers should be treated or mistreated. These lecturers are being financially punished for no other reason than their reasonable demands do not fit into the needs of the British Exchequer.

"This is a clear case where the Assembly and the Executive must assert its independence from policies set by the Treasury. This is another example where the needs of the people who live here are being filtered through the needs of the British Treasury.

"At the very heart of this dispute is the issue of economic independence and the ability of this Assembly and the Executive to raise its own money and decide its own financial and fiscal policies in the interests of our citizens here and not to the dictate of the Treasury in London." ENDS

Note to Editors

  • The Welsh Assembly has already agreed to pay parity for FE lecturers with schoolteachers.
  • Lecturers in England are outside the Treasury's Public Sector Pay Policy (PSPP).
  • Lecturers in Scotland are also outside the (PSPP)
  • No other education sector has its pay arrangements subject to the Treasury's PSPP except lecturers here.
  • A submission was put to the Public Sector Pay Committee at Westminster by DEL in February 2007 in support of pay parity. Peter Hain, Maria Eagle and David Hanson supported it.
  • The Public Sector Pay Committee rejected the case for parity and seemed to suggest in its response that schoolteacher's salaries here should be reduced to bring them into line with FE lecturers pay.
  • An independent inquiry into lecturers pay compared with those of teachers in other sectors was carried out in 2000 called The Horisk Report. It found that the earnings potential for lecturers were significantly below that of teachers in the schools sector and that teachers had significantly greater opportunities for promotion and the attraction of management and other allowances. The Horisk Report recommended action to be taken to address the differentials.

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