THOUSANDS of college lecturers across the country will go on strike today in a long-running dispute over pay.

Taking part in the action are staff from Bishop Auckland College, City of Sunderland College, Cleveland College of Art, Darlington College of Technology, Derwentside College, Gateshead College, Hartlepool College, Middlesbrough College, New College Durham, Redcar and Cleveland Borough College, South Tyneside College and Stockton Riverside College.

Lecturers' union Natfhe said nationally 26,000 members of staff in about 220 colleges in England would be affected.

The union balloted for industrial action over what officials have described as "a lowly 2.8 per cent pay offer" for this academic year.

Lecturers were also said to be angry that colleges receive 13 per cent less funding every year than schools.

Barry Lovejoy, head of colleges at Natfhe, said: "We have not only had an inadequate pay rise this year, we have also in some of our colleges not received the pay rise from last year."

He said future strikes were possible if college employers, represented by the Association of Colleges, refused to negotiate a satisfactory settlement.