Strikes end at London's biggest college group

Action ends after Capital City College Group offers one-off £500 payment and fractional posts for casual employees

College bosses at Capital City College Group (CCCG) said they have reached an agreement with the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU), to bring an end to industrial action

Staff at London’s largest college group are set to receive a one-off payment, and some staff paid by the hour staff will be given more secure contracts.

Capital City College Group (CCCG) said it had reached an agreement with the University and College Union (UCU) to bring an end to industrial action at the group’s three colleges: City and Islington College, the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London and Westminster Kingsway College.

Following a ballot in January, UCU members at the college group walked out alongside 11 other colleges. Some 91 per cent of staff at affected colleges voted for strike action, with an average turnout of 63 per cent.

The dispute arose after the Association of Colleges (AoC) offered a 1 per cent pay increase to staff – an offer the UCU said failed to address the years of pay freezes further education staff have endured. Some of the strikes also centred on concerns over working conditions.

A 'modest, non-consolidated payment'

Leaders at CCCG said the group had already implemented the AoC’s recommended salary increase for all staff and will continue its practice of using the recommendation from the AoC and joint union discussions as the basis for setting staff salaries.

Andy Wilson, CCCG chief executive, said he was pleased an agreement had been reached. A “modest, non-consolidated payment” of £500 will be made to full-time staff, and on pro-rata basis for non-full-time staff. This is in recognition of "colleagues’ commitment to the successful creation of the CCCG."

The contracts of staff paid by the hour who have taught half timetables for three years or more will be consolidated into fractional posts, Mr Wilson added: “This is something we have wanted to do for a number of years and it is great that the security the large college group now provides, allows us to improve the conditions for this important group of staff.”

Mr Wilson said he recognised that salaries across the FE sector had not kept up with the costs staff incur to work in London. “As in other colleges,” he added, “our income has not increased, while staff costs, including pensions, national insurance, the apprenticeship levy as well as salaries, increase every year.

“The corporation aspires to be the best FE employer in the capital and is committed to working with staff and the trade unions to explore a pay policy that will achieve this. In the meantime, I am pleased our students will be able to complete their courses without further disruption.”

More strikes threatened

CCCG is London’s biggest FE and training provider, with around 37,000 students and an annual income totalling £110 million. The group has 11 college sites across central and North London.

Andrew Harden, head of FE at UCU, said: "UCU members took action after being told that there was no extra money available for pay and the issue of fractional contracts was not a priority for the college. Members have secured a deal on pay and a decent agreement on fractional contracts.

"These are a result of the action UCU members took. We also welcome the college’s commitment to further pay talks when a new CEO is in post, but members have made it clear they will ballot for action again if the promised negotiations over a new local pay bargaining framework do not result in a meaningful pay award for 2018-19."

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