STAFF at Burnley College, Nelson & Colne College and four others in the North West are set to strike on the date of two important exams as their union piles pressure on the institutions to raise salaries.
The decision comes after a ballot of more than 1,000 members of the University and College Union (UCU) last month came out in support of action to achieve an 8.5 per cent pay rise.
On May 18, the date of exam boards AQA and Edexcel's GCSE English Language assessments, staff at Burnley College, and Nelson and Colne College, will walk out unless an agreement is reached beforehand.
The union expects this to cause significant disruption to the two exams.
It will be the same at City of Liverpool College, Oldham College, Bury College, and Hopwood Hall College, which offer some GCSEs on top of their courses for over-16s.
From the following day, a total of around 900 staff also intend to take action short of a strike, including working to contract, not covering for absent colleagues and not rescheduling classes cancelled due to the strike.
The UCU anticipates more than 50,000 students will be affected.
The demand for an 8.5 per cent pay rise is a response to the immediate cost of the living crisis, but also to what is described as "more than a decade of insufficient salaries" for those who work in further education.
The union suggested the pay gap between school teachers and their college counterparts now stands at around £9,000.
UCU regional official, Martyn Moss, said: "We urge employers to do the right thing and give staff a pay rise so strike action can be avoided.
"Our members take huge pride in educating and supporting students, and striking during exams is a last resort, but staff are rightly outraged that their bosses have repeatedly held down pay.
"Now as inflation and energy costs soar, bosses urgently need to raise pay so we can avoid disruption to crucial GCSE English exams."
The Lancashire Telegraph has asked Burnley College and Nelson & Colne College for comment.