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UCU Congress: plans to 'name and shame colleges' revealed

Delegates at the University and College Unions' annual congress this weekend will vote to introduce a 'Disinvestors in People' badge for colleges with poor pay practices

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Delegates at the University and College Unions' annual congress this weekend will vote to introduce a 'Disinvestors in People' badge for colleges with poor pay practices

Plans to ‘name and shame’ colleges with poor pay practices have been revealed by the University and College Union (UCU) ahead of its annual congress in Brighton.

Members will vote on Sunday on proposals to introduce a special Disinvestors in People badge for colleges with "poor practice on pay". The plan is part of a new pay strategy which would see colleges exposed on social media.

The plans also include "greylisting" colleges that do not pay the Association of Colleges' (AoC) pay recommendation for 2016-17.

The pay strategy would involve lobbying organisations to address the gender pay gap in further education, establishing permanent posts for hourly-paid, temporary, fixed-term and casual staff, and lobbying colleges to adopt the living wage.

'Committed to national bargaining'

In December, UCU members of FE colleges avoided a national strike after voting to accept the AoC's recommendations on pay for 2016-17. The previous year, the AoC did not offer a pay rise on behalf of its member colleges, triggering two national one-day strikes involving the UCU and Unison.

This year's recommendations include a 1 per cent pay increase for staff and a minimum £250 uplift for every member of staff earning below £25,000.

The pay strategy would aim to combat moves by some colleges to ignore the AoC's pay recommendations. But according to the AoC, in 2014-15 only a third of colleges implemented the pay rise recommended by the organisation that year.

And in February, members of the AoC were asked if they thought national pay bargaining should be scrapped entirely as part of the organisation's 2017 internal review. 

Andrew Harden, head of further education at UCU, said: "UCU remains committed to national bargaining, but it needs to be effective. The AoC has not helped itself in refusing to make an offer at last week's meeting after having a month to reflect on our claim. We expect members' frustrations to be clearly articulated in Brighton this weekend.

He added: "As I explained to college principals in a letter ahead of those talks, pay in FE is a problem when staff who love teaching are leaving because they can't afford to stay. No one can believe it to be right that the passion and commitment of staff can or should be rewarded with further reductions, in real terms, to their pay. This year's claim reflects the legitimate expectation of staff that they fall no further behind and get back a little of what they have lost."

Pay gap

On Sunday, delegates at the UCU congress will also vote to close the pay gap between staff and principals. The union says that colleges have implemented the AoC's pay freeze "with no challenge to government policy". 

The UCU also highlights a decline in lecturers' pay of 20 per cent in real terms since 2015-16, and that the average principal is paid 3.5 times that of the best-paid lecturers. "In many cases this rises to five times that of a main grade lecturer," the union says. "This is an historic differential."

Last month, Tes revealed that 60 per cent of principals and CEOs received a pay increase last year – at the same time as their staff were subject to a pay freeze. 

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