HUNDREDS of staff at colleges across East Lancashire have walked out today over a pay dispute.
Members of UNISON and the University and College Union (UCU) at Blackburn College, Burnley College, Accrington and Rossendale College (Accross) and Nelson and Colne Colne are taking part in the strike.
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The unions have said that 'major disruption' will be caused to colleges across the country during the one-day national strike.
Around 600 members across both unions have come out on strike at Blackburn College and seven picket lines outside various entrances have been set up.
The protest is against a recommended pay freeze by the Association of Colleges.
John Murphy, the vice chairman of the Blackburn College UCU branch, said: “This strike is not just about pay because it’s also about securing the future of further education.
“We have not had a pay rise for seven years and because of increases in national insurance and pensions we have actually lost money.
“The government is ignoring further education and that needs to stop now.
“We are all hoping that this strike has a real impact at Blackburn College and at others as well.”
A spokeswoman for the college said: "Our message loud and clear is that students will not miss out.
"The college campus will be fully open and no classes will be cancelled.
"We can't by law ask our staff members if they are striking or not but we do have around 300 UCU members.
"We always plan not to close the college and a contingency plan has been put in place which includes changing the timetable.
"We support our staff members' right to take part in a national strike."
The latest strike comes after staff at Blackburn College and Nelson and Colne College took part in industrial action in November.
The dispute was over pay and was conducted by members of the UCU.
A spokesman for Nelson and Colne College said: "We are aware that a very small percentage of our staff intend to support the national industrial action being called by UCU and UNISON.
"This proposed strike has not impacted on ‘business as usual’ and study programmes are running as normal."