UCU announces date for 48-hour college pay strike

Staff at 16 colleges will hold two days of strikes in the pay dispute with AoC, starting on 29 January

Stephen Exley

The UCU has announced 48-hour strikes at colleges in a dispute over pay

Lecturers at 16 English colleges are to stage two days of strike action in a dispute over pay.

Members of the University and College Union will walk out at the end of the month, with warnings of further action if the row remains unresolved.

The strikes will start on 29 January and follow industrial action last November.

The union said college bosses had failed to make a decent offer to staff, whom it maintains have seen the real-terms value of their pay fall by 25 per cent over the past decade.

Head of policy Matt Waddup said: "UCU members are being forced to take strike action to secure fair pay because they have had enough of watching their pay being eroded while their workloads increase.

Colleges 'can't hide behind cuts'

"The government must take the blame for a failure to invest in further education, but colleges cannot hide behind these cuts to shirk responsibility for their staff.

"UCU will continue to campaign for more investment from the government but, whether this is forthcoming or not, strikes will continue until colleges show that they are at last prioritising their staff."

According to data from the Education and Training Foundation, the pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools is £7,000.

The strikes at 14 colleges will be for 48 hours from 29 January, while at Leicester College action will be held on 29 and 31 January, and at Kendal College UCU members will walk out on 29 January and 12 February.

'Increasing disparity' in pay

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: “With the increasing disparity between school [and college] pay, we understand that unions feel this is the only way to get their voice heard. However, the major issue facing our sector is funding.

“We need to concentrate our collective energies on pushing the government for better investment in the sector, to allow colleges to properly reward their staff. In the meantime, colleges will now have to focus on ensuring that students and their studies don't suffer as a result of any industrial action.”

Yesterday, Tes reported that 11,000 college support staff members of the Unison union were also being balloted over strike action, or other industrial action, in the same dispute.

In their 2018-19 pay claim, the unions representing college employees asked for a pay rise of 5 per cent or a fixed increase of £1,500 for staff earning less than £30,000 per year. The AoC made a final offer of a 1 per cent increase, or £250 for staff earning less than £25,000 a year.

Members of the EIS-FELA teaching union across Scotland will walk out tomorrow for the first day of strike action in a dispute over pay. According to Colleges Scotland, colleges have offered an increase that would take the average pay increase from 9 per cent to 12.2 per cent – or an average cash increase of over £4,000 – but this has been rejected.

Colleges affected by strikes

  • Abingdon and Witney College
  • Bath College
  • Bradford College
  • Bridgwater and Taunton College
  • City of Wolverhampton College
  • Coventry College
  • Croydon College
  • East Sussex College
  • Harlow College
  • Hugh Baird College
  • Kendal College
  • Lambeth College
  • Leicester College
  • New College Swindon
  • Petroc
  • West Thames College

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Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley

Stephen Exley is a freelance writer, director of external affairs at Villiers Park Educational Trust and former FE editor at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @stephenexley

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