LECTURERS at Southampton City College are threatening strike action over pay.

Union leaders from NATFHE, The University and College Lecturers Union, are balloting about 140 members on taking part in a day-long walk out.

It's the culmination of a dispute between college bosses and union officials over a new pay structure recommended by the Association of Colleges.

NATFHE leaders at the college had hoped for a new national pay scale rewarding experience. This would have seen wages rise by six per cent over two years.

However, Southampton City College is proposing a new pay scale based on whether lecturers are graded key, effective or unsatisfactory.

Barry Lovejoy, NATFHE's head of colleges said: "Our members have not rushed into being balloted for industrial action.

"They have been extremely patient and declined to join in earlier national strike ballots in the mistaken belief that their management would pay them the agreed increases.

"But after ten months of waiting, their patience is exhausted."

Mary Cooper, NATFHE regional official said it was regrettable but lecturers had no other choice but to ballot for industrial action.

Unions insist the college's pay scale means a qualified lecturer without any extra responsibility would earn between £19,060 and £24,520 as opposed to the national pay agreement that would see them earn between £20,283 and £30,705.

However, college principal and chief executive Lindsey Noble said lecturers' salaries could rise to £28,000 under her scheme.

She said that just 30 of the 350 staff employed by the college remain on the former pay scale.

"The college has looked at the additional cost of implementing the AoC recommended grades and pay rates and refuses to commit itself to a structure it knows it cannot honour and its destiny should be in its own hands.

"The contribution scheme in the college will consider other factors such as personal and professional development, flexibility and responsiveness and commitment to the college's values, in addition to achievement of work targets. "

If members vote in favour, the day of strike action will take place on May 25.