Teachers in more than a third of sixth-form colleges and 16-19 academies across the country will go on strike tomorrow to protest against funding cuts in the "long-suffering" further education sector.
It will be the first of three strike days set to take place between now and Budget Day, on Wednesday 11 March. The other dates will be Thursday 27 February and Tuesday 10 March.
The action will involve NEU teaching union members in 34 colleges, which make up 38 per cent of all sixth-form colleges and 16-19 academies.
Policy: Boris Johnson backs FE funding
The NEU is seeking higher and sustained funding to improve the pay, working conditions and security of employment of NEU members and to secure the future of the sector.
Strike action at sixth-form colleges
The union says that funding for 16-19 education has been cut by more and for longer than schools' funding, and funding increases announced before the election are "grossly inadequate".
It said in a statement: "Jobs have been cut, class sizes have risen and pay has fallen. If the crisis continues to go unaddressed, the future of the sector is under threat and it is students’ education that will continue to suffer."
Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: "The Conservatives have neglected 16-19 education and sixth-form colleges in particular.
"No wonder our members are angry and determined to secure a properly funded post-16 sector for both students and staff.
"[Education secretary] Gavin Williamson must take heed of this very real concern from a long-suffering sector and make the case to the chancellor and the prime minister that the Budget on 11 March must include at the very least a £700 million injection of new money to close the gap with schools. Otherwise, the crisis in 16-19 funding will continue."
Education minister Michelle Donelan said: "It is very disappointing that the NEU has decided to take further strike action in sixth form colleges and 16-19 academies.
"The decision to strike is especially disappointing given that we have committed to increasing 16-19 funding in the 2020-21 academic year by £400 million – the biggest injection of new money in a single year since 2010. This is in addition to funding the additional costs of pension schemes in 2020-21.
"We are committed to an ongoing dialogue with the National Education Union and I have already met with the joint general secretaries to discuss how we can avoid disruptive strike action."