Jo Grady: Funding is not an excuse for no negiotation

As Nottingham College staff prepare for a 15-day strike, UCU general secretary says the college must negotiate

Kate Parker

Jo Grady: Funding is no longer an excuse for lack of negotiation by Nottingham College

Funding is no longer a viable excuse for not addressing staff concerns, says UCU general secretary Jo Grady.

Speaking ahead of a mammoth 15-day strike planned at Nottingham College, Ms Grady said that following the chancellor’s recent funding announcement, the college couldn't use funding as an excuse for refusing to negotiate with members about new contracts. 

The contracts would leave more than 80 staff more than £1,000 a year worse off, remove key protections designed to protect staff against work overload and cut holiday entitlements, according to the UCU. Staff have not received a pay rise since 2010.

Background: 15 days of strikes threatened over college contracts

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In a recent UCU ballot, 96 per cent of members at the college voted to back strike action.

The series of strikes follows a one-day strike at the beginning of July. At the time, staff warned that if the college wasn’t prepared to negotiate then further action would follow. 

Planned strike days 

  • Week 1: Wednesday 11 September
  • Week 2: Thursday 19 and Friday 20 September
  • Week 3: Monday 23, Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 September
  • Week 4: Monday 30 September, Tuesday 1, Wednesday 2, Thursday 3 and Friday 4 October
  • Week 5: Monday 7, Tuesday 8, Wednesday 9, Thursday 10 and Friday 11 October

Ms Grady said that members were right to be furious at the college’s attempts to "force staff into damaging new contracts".

“As well as hitting many members’ pay packets, the new contracts remove vital protections against work overload. These changes increase the risk that staff will burn out or simply leave the college, impacting on the student experience," she added.

“Strike action is always a last resort, but staff are sending a clear message that they will not tolerate this attack on their pay and conditions, and the college’s uncompromising approach has only hardened their resolve."

A spokesperson for Nottingham College said: “Everybody in the college cares passionately about providing our students with the best possible education, training and personal development, and the last thing anybody wants is a strike. The college will be open as usual throughout any industrial action. We have already reached collective agreement with Unison and the NEU [unions] and we remain in discussion with UCU in the hope that we can resolve remaining issues and reach an agreement.

"While any moves by the government to rectify over a decade of under-funding is welcome, most of the money is allocated to specific areas of provision, for example, the new T-level qualifications, English and maths teaching and expensive to teach subjects like engineering. We won’t see any of this money until September 2020, it is only for one year, and any funds received will be subject to our enrolment numbers. With the continuing political uncertainty, we must wait and be sure that funding is secure.”

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Kate Parker

Kate Parker is a schools and colleges content producer.

Find me on Twitter @KateParkerTes

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