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NUT calls national sixth-form college strike on 15 March

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Members of the NUT union working in sixth-form colleges have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a national one-day strike in response to the "inadequate" funding levels currently being offered to FE providers.

Almost nine in 10 members (86 per cent) who voted backed a strike to "persuade the secretary of state for education to increase presently inadequate funding levels which cause detrimental changes to terms and conditions within the sixth form college sector". The strike will be held on Tuesday 15 March.

NUT deputy general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “This strong ballot result shows the strength of feeling amongst sixth-form college teachers. Sixth-form colleges provide a vital service to over 150,000 young people, many of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“Funding has already been cut in real terms by 14 per cent and further real-terms cuts of 8 per cent are now planned. Colleges are dropping courses and increasing class sizes. If this situation is not reversed, many colleges will face closure. This clearly has a direct impact on the terms and conditions of our members as well as the education of many young people. The situation is untenable. It is simply wrong that government has put NUT members in the postion that the only way to defend their terms and conditions is by taking strike action."

Last week, thousands of staff members from the University and College Union (UCU) and Unison went on strike in response to the Association of Colleges' recommendation that its members do not offer a pay rise for 2015-16. At a lobby in central London, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt told members of both unions that FE colleges could be hit by more strikes as the pay situation in the sector was "beyond what is survivable". 

She said: "The UCU [striking] on its own, or Unison on its own, isn’t going to make a difference. What is going to make a difference is if we start building an alliance with public sector unions, education unions, and others in our sector that are willing to say that the funding situation in further education is beyond what is reasonable."

Also speaking at the rally, Richard McEwan, a UCU FE committee member, said: "If the NUT [is] out on strike on 15 March, and they've called a national demonstration, we should be part of it on that day [as well]."

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