A total of 10 further education colleges will be hit by strike action throughout May and June in a row over pay between members of the University and College Union and college management.
Staff at nine colleges in London, as well as Sandwell College in the West Midlands, will walk out for up to seven days. The move by union members follows what they said was an unacceptable pay offer of 1 per cent from the Association of Colleges in September last year. The UCU said FE staff have suffered years of pay suppression and have seen their pay drop by 25 per cent in real terms since 2009.
This is the third wave of strikes in the dispute, with staff at many at the affected colleges having taken strike action in February and March. While the dispute centres around pay, at some colleges it also includes concerns about working conditions, including holiday entitlement, workload and observation policies.
'No other option'
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "UCU members at these colleges are resolute in their fight for better pay and conditions. Strike action is always a last resort, but in the face of repeated below-inflation pay awards staff feel they have been left with no other option. The colleges need to urgently address members’ concerns if they want to avoid further disruption to students in the coming weeks."
David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “Strike action is always regrettable – especially when it risks disrupting students during the vital exam season. This local UCU action negatively impacts students, not the government whose chronic underfunding of further education has led to a situation where colleges are unable to offer their staff the pay rise requested. We will continue to pressure government to recognise the value of the workforce, and will continue the constructive dialogue taking place between AoC, colleges and UCU.”
Colleges affected by strike action
Hackney Community College - 11/14/15 May
Tower Hamlets College - 11/14/15 May
Sandwell College - 15/16/17/18 May
Epping Forest College - 17 May
Lewisham Southwark College - 22/23 May
Lambeth College - 22/23/24 May
City and Islington College - 23/24/25 May and 5/6/7/8 June
College of Haringey Enfield and North East London - 23/24/25 May and 5/6/7/8 June
Westminster Kingsway College - 23/24/25 May and 5/6/7/8 June
Havering College - 5/7/8/12 June