Week of strike action begins by staff at FE colleges in Northern Ireland
Staff at Further Education (FE) colleges across Northern Ireland took to the picket lines on Monday as a week of strike action began.
In the first of five successive days of action this week, members of the University and College Union (UCU) are staging walk-outs in a long-running dispute over pay and conditions.
Carrying placards and posters, staff gathered outside the north's six FE colleges on the same day that courses were due to restart.
The UCU, which represents the majority of around 1,700 FE lecturers, said its members were taking action from Monday.
It added that walkouts will continue over the next three months with each college set to take one day of strike action once every six days.
Staff on the picket lines said they did not want to affect students' education, but they were taking action after years of issues with pay and conditions.
It said the union has been "forced to take action after a decade of their members being subject to pay freeze, followed by pay restraint, which has seen lecturer pay awards limited to between one per cent and two per cent per year".
The College Employers' Forum (CEF), which represents college management, last week said the action would "have a negative impact on our learners who have only commenced the 2023-24 academic year" adding that colleges were facing "significant budgetary pressures".
The Department for the Economy, which has responsibility for further education in the north, also urged employers and unions to "seek a resolution on ongoing pay issues".