College lecturers will be taking strike action today in a dispute over pay between unions and the Association of Colleges (AoC).
Staff across 14 colleges are expected to take part in the strike, which follows a ballot by the University and College Union that waslaunched in January. It is estimated that around 1,700 staff will take part. According to the UCU, 91 per cent of staff at affected colleges voted for strike action, with the average turnout 63 per cent. Staff at Sunderland College are also walking out today.
The dispute arose after the AoC offered a 1 per cent pay increase to staff – an offer the UCU said failed to address the years of pay freezes further education staff have endured. While staff at all affected institutions are taking action over pay, at some colleges the dispute also includes concerns about working conditions, including holiday entitlement, workload and observation policies.
Staff in London will later head to a rally at Westminster Central Hall, where speakers will include shadow chancellor John McDonnell, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner and NUS students' union president Shakira Martin.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: "The overwhelming support for strike action at these colleges shows the depth of anger about continued attempts to hold down pay in further education. Staff walking out on Wednesday feel they have been left with no alternative and there is a mandate for further strikes if the disputes cannot be resolved."
A spokesperson for the AoC commented: "Only 7% of UCU members voted to strike. It is clear that there is no mandate for national action for what is a recognised national negotiation". The strike will have more of an impact on the students in those colleges affected "than it will have on the government which has starved colleges of the investment we need to support better pay".
They added: "We value the contribution of the sector workforce and it is not acceptable that teachers in schools are earning on average £37k compared with only £30k in colleges. We will continue to pressure government until the inadequate funding levels for Further Education are addressed”.
The colleges affected are
- City and Islington College
- College of Haringey Enfield and North East London
- Westminster Kingsway College
- Croydon College
- Epping Forest College
- Havering College
- Lambeth College
- Richmond upon Thames College
- Sandwell College
- Sunderland College
- City of Westminster College
- College of North West London
- Hackney Community College
- Redbridge College
- Tower Hamlets College