More than 200 colleges have been affected by today’s strike by lecturers over pay, according to the University and College Union.
The national industrial action, being held after the Association of Colleges (AoC) did not offer a pay rise to staff for 2015-16, has affected 207 colleges, according to UCU.
The unions representing staff in FE had called for a £1 per hour pay rise for all college employees.
The strike was called last month after 74 per cent of members who took part in the ballot backed industrial action.
UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: “UCU members are sick of employers’ refusal to deal with the real-terms pay cuts that have blighted the sector. For the Association of Colleges to recommend that all of their members freeze staff pay this year was a real insult.
“Members who voted gave a clear mandate for strike action and we will be taking action. We hope the employers will now come back to the table.”
A UCU rally is taking place in Westminster at 1pm. Scheduled speakers include shadow chancellor John McDonnell and shadow skills minister Gordon Marsden. This morning, Labour claimed that planned Conservative cuts could mean a hit for college funding of as much as £2.6 billion.
The AoC has not released any details about how many colleges were affected by the strike. Marc Whitworth, the association's director of employment policy and services, said its decision not to offer a pay rise “reflects the stringent financial circumstances in the sector and the significant external pressures on college pay bills”.
He added: “Strikes are very disruptive for colleges and more importantly for students. We would encourage UCU to consider how we might better work together to represent our respective members collectively. There is a willingness from the employers’ side to work together to protect the prospects of further education, its skilled workforce and the students it serves.”