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UCU strike: Union members in colleges to walk out next month over pay

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) working in English FE colleges will be taking part in a one-day strike over pay next month, TES can reveal.

The UCU’s further education committee met last Friday to consider the results of a member consultation on the 2014/15 pay offer made by the Association of Colleges in June.

The union said that 85 per cent of those who took part voted to reject the AoC’s offer and supported strike action “in an effort to secure an improved deal”. 

The committee voted in favour of joining other public sector unions in a day of action on 14 October, and to determine dates for further targeted and national strike action when it next meets on 17 October.

It is estimated that some 1.3 million workers, including members of the GMB, Unison and Unite will be walking out in schools and council offices around the country. 

Back in June the AoC made what it called its “full and final offer” in the ongoing pay negotiations with unions representing college staff.

The deal included removing the lowest current pay grade, with staff placed on the new grade receiving a 2 per cent increase. 

This is equal to an extra £288.42 a year and would see their hourly rate increase to £7.65 an hour, equivalent to the current living wage.

Staff working in roles above the base rate would receive a 1 per cent consolidated increase under the offer.

But UCU head of bargaining Michael MacNeil said: “Our members have made it quite clear that they are not prepared to accept another real-terms pay cut. The cost of living continues to rise, but pay just isn’t matching it.

“Our members have seen their pay fall by 15 per cent in real terms since 2009 and have also been hit with higher monthly pension contributions. We will be joining our colleagues in other public sector unions because Britain needs a pay rise.”

Marc Whitworth, acting director of employment policy and services, said: “With colleges facing significant financial pressures, AoC’s final recommendation of a 1 per cent pay increase, with no conditions, is a fair balance between rewarding staff and maintaining the financial well-being of colleges where possible.

“UCU’s decision to take industrial action is extremely disappointing. AoC hopes to discuss this further with UCU.”

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