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Colleges make biggest pay offer yet to avoid strikes

The Association of Colleges has offered FE staff the biggest pay deal in five years in a last ditch bid to avoid strike action, according to unions.

At the final meeting between the AoC and FE trade unions last week, the association made what it called its “full and final offer” in the ongoing pay negotiations.

Marc Whitworth, the AoC’s acting director of employment policy and services, said the deal included removing the lowest current pay grade, and staff placed on the new grade would receive a 2 per cent increase. 

This is equal to an extra £288.42 a year and would see their hourly rate increase to £7.65 an hour, equivalent to the current living wage.

Staff working in roles above the base rate would receive a 1 per cent consolidated increase under the offer.

Mr Whitworth said: “We welcome the constructive dialogue we have had with the unions this year in the National Joint Forum (NJF) about the funding situation facing further education colleges and our collective concerns about the financial challenges the sector faces.

“Bearing in mind these significant financial pressures, AoC’s full and final offer – with no conditions – is a fair balance between rewarding staff and maintaining the financial well-being of colleges where possible.”

Trade unions, which are currently mulling over the offer, claim it is the biggest they have received in five years. Up until now, the AoC had offered just 0.7 per cent.  

However, it falls short of the amount demanded by the University and College Union, which has called for an extra £1,040 or 3 per cent, whichever is higher.

The union has said a national strike remains an option.

A spokesman for the UCU said: “We have received a full and final offer from the employers. The union’s further education committee will meet on Friday to discuss our next steps.”

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