First college strike dates announced

University and College Union will also ballot members at 26 institutions over pay

Julia Belgutay

college FE strike industrial action pay funding

Staff at six FE colleges across England will walk out on Wednesday 28 November for two days of strike action, in a first wave of industrial action over pay.

At a further 26 colleges, the University and College Union (UCU) will open a ballot on pay that day, which will close on 19 December.

According to the UCU, the dispute centres on the failure of college bosses to make a decent pay offer to staff, who have seen their pay decline by 25 per cent over the past decade. The union stressed that the pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools currently stands at £7,000.

About two-thirds of college heads said pay rates were a major obstacle when seeking to attract new staff. A report comparing international further education systems warned that cuts in English FE funding had weakened colleges and that staff had not received a pay rise for an “unconscionably long time”.

In their 2018-19 pay claim, the unions representing college employees asked for a pay rise of 5 per cent, or a fixed increase of £1,500 for staff earning less than £30,000 per year.

'Pay systematically eroded'

UCU head of policy and campaigns Matt Waddup said: “Staff in further education colleges have seen their pay systematically eroded in recent years and are being paid £7,000 less than school teachers. While the government must take the blame for their failure to invest in further education, colleges can and must do more to support their staff.

"Staff at six colleges in England will be leading the strikes this winter, as ballots open at another 26 institutions.

“UCU will continue to campaign for more investment from the government, but whether this is forthcoming or not, strikes are likely to continue in the new year until colleges show that they are at last prioritising their staff.”

Colleges in which UCU members will be taking strike action on 28 November

  • Bath College
  • Bradford College
  • Croydon College
  • Lambeth College
  • New College Swindon
  • Petroc College

Colleges due to ballot

  • Abingdon & Witney College
  • Barnsley College
  • Bournville College
  • Bridgwater and Taunton College
  • Carshalton College
  • City College Plymouth
  • City Literary Institute
  • City of Bristol College
  • City of Wolverhampton College
  • Coventry College
  • East Riding College
  • East Sussex College Group
  • Harlow College
  • Havering College
  • Hugh Baird College
  • Kendal College
  • Kingston College
  • Leicester College
  • Morley College
  • Richmond upon Thames College
  • South and City College Birmingham
  • South Thames College
  • Strode College
  • Truro and Penwith College
  • West Thames College
  • Wiltshire College

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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