Members of the University and College Union (UCU) in 15 further education colleges in England have voted for strike action over pay.
Teaching staff at Capital City College Group's three institutions also supported strike action – over working conditions and compulsory redundancies, as well as pay.
The ballots covered Carshalton College, City College Plymouth, City of Bristol College, City of Liverpool College, Croydon College, Kingston College, Lambeth College, Merton College, New College Swindon, Sheffield College, Wandsworth and Tooting College and Weymouth College.
Overall, 89 per cent of members who voted backed strike action, on an average turnout of over 62 per cent. The union said this reflected the anger that staff feel over their pay – not least over the decision by the Association of Colleges, which represents employers in pay negotiations in England, to recommend a 1 per cent pay increase for staff.
Strike action: Ballots open in 11 FE colleges
Increased government funding for the college sector should translate into significantly better pay for staff, said the union, highlighting the pay gap between college and school teachers. The UCU is calling for a pay increase of greater than 5 per cent, and says employers have until September to meet that demand or face strike action.
College staff support strike action over 'derisory' pay offer
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "This ballot result is an emphatic message from college staff to principals that they will not sit back while their pay is held down. Thanks to UCU’s campaigning, colleges received an injection of government funding, but they have failed to work with us to prioritise pay. Instead, employers have recommended a derisory 1 per cent pay rise, which is a real-terms pay cut. College leaders urgently need to come to the negotiating table or they will face severe disruption in the autumn.
"Colleges need to understand that delivering top-class education is reliant on looking after your staff and ensuring they are paid fairly. The employers who engage with us on pay and conditions will receive a positive hearing, but those who refuse should not be surprised at the determination of staff to take action. Pay in further education is a problem, and it is time for colleges and the AoC to get serious and do something about it."