STRIKING academics have warned they could be forced to boycott marking in their fight for “fair pay”.

Lecturers at the University of Bolton walked out at 9am yesterday for the latest in a series of two-hour strikes in a long-running national row over a one per cent pay rise — but were docked a full day’s pay for taking the action.

Damien Markey, secretary of the University of Bolton, said: “We will be working for the majority of the day for no pay and that obviously makes us very angry.

“We have now received the legal framework to challenge this.

“We will work for the majority of the day and give the support to the students even though we are not getting paid.

“We have done everything right and are fighting for fair pay.”

Unions insist university staff will have suffered a 13 per cent pay cut in real terms since October 2008 while those at the top are awarded “healthy rises”.

Previous strikes have taken place and have involved members of Unison and a number of two hour strikes.

University of Bolton bosses said they intended io implement the one per cent rise, as recommended by the Universities and Colleges Employers Association.

A University of Bolton spokesman said: “The university is mindful of an employee’s right to protest.

“The university will not accept any partial performance of duties in a working day, which a two hour strike is, as it is detrimental to its students.

“The university, in accordance with the Universities and Colleges Employers Association’s recommendation to the HE sector, has therefore made all academic staff aware that in the event they participate in the strike it will withhold pay for the entire day.

“The university is taking all reasonable steps to mitigate any inconvenience that may be caused to students as a result of this strike action and any adverse impact this may have on their experience.”

Mr Markey said: “The next step may now be a marking boycott, we don’t want this to happen, it has the potential to affect those who are graduating and delay graduation “Highly skilled academics are going abroad to other countries to teach, where they are valued.”

Lecturers were giving out leaflets explaining why they were being forced to take strike action and said Mr Markey had received positive messages from students.

Student Chloe Earnshaw, aged 20, said: “I do support the lecturers and understand why they are doing it. I think most students do support them.”