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FE strike looms as pay talks end without agreement

A national FE strike could be on the cards after pay talks between the Association of Colleges and trade unions in England ended without agreement today.

The AoC offered FE lecturers an increase of 0.7 per cent during negotiations, but unions did not accept the offer.

Michael MacNeil, head of bargaining for the University and College Union, said: “The offer looks little different from recent years and does not address our concerns about members’ falling pay.”

A final round of talks are scheduled for June 18.

UCU members at FE colleges took strike action last December over the 0.7 per cent pay offer. The union is calling for an extra £1,040 or three per cent, whichever is higher.

The union has said a national strike remains an option and there is a growing unease among its members. It believes FE staff have seen their pay fall by 15 per cent in real terms since 2009.

According to the Office for National Statistics, lecturers in FE are paid around 7 per cent, or £2,300, a year less than their colleagues teaching in schools.

Mr MacNeil said: “To restore any credibility to these national pay negotiations the employers need demonstrate that they are prioritising staff. We hope AoC will return with an offer that better reflects our demands.

“We have our annual conference in a fortnight where I am sure delegates will express their frustration with the failure of the employers to so far address seriously our claim."

Members of the UCU held a lobby outside the talks, which were held at the Institute of Arbitrators in central London.

Marc Whitworth, director of employment policy and services for the Association of Colleges, said: “All parties acknowledge the challenges colleges face with funding, and that local affordability is a key consideration when looking at implementation of any final recommendation.

"Detailed information on college funding has been a central part of discussions, with AoC providing details which unions have been encouraged to share with members.

“The third meeting of the National Joint Forum will take place on 18 June following further scheduled member consultation.”

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