Members of the University and College Union have rejected proposals to join the NUT in a national strike over pay in July.
In a heated debate at the union’s FE sector conference in Manchester yesterday, delegates were torn on what action to take.
The union has held two rounds of pay negotiations with the Association of Colleges so far this year, both without agreement, and is due to hold a third and final meeting on June 18.
It has rejected the AoC’s offer of a 0.7 per cent rise and claims FE staff have lost 16 per cent in real terms over the last four years.
In that time no pay recommendation has reached 1 per cent, and even then 30 per cent of colleges have not implemented the agreements, it claims.
But a motion to join the planned national NUT strike in July was narrowly voted down yesterday, despite appeals from a number of members.
James Eaden, of the union’s East Midlands regional committee, said: “We can’t have a successful campaign without the possibility of strike action. We have to be prepared to use the strike weapon.”
Mandy Brown of Lambeth College, said: “We have had this debate all year about when we are going to do something and what we are going to do. Negotiators will be happy if they have strike action in their back pocket.”
But Jenny Prideaux of Sheffield College said a strike in July would only see the union lose a lot of its credibility.
Members voted to continue campaigning and negotiating on a national basis, and to leave “national and targeted strike action” as an option.
Earlier, FE members voted for a campaign of non-cooperation with Ofsted and to campaign for the inspectorate’s abolition.
Brian O’Sullivan, of Bournville College, attacked the “pernicious nature” of Ofsted and urged fellow union members to “take control”.
“This is our workplace; these are our colleges. We should be reclaiming education,” he said.