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Union members vote to ballot over 2017-18 FE pay claim

Seventy-five per cent of University and College Union members voted for the ballot via an e-consultation

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Seventy-five per cent of University and College Union members voted for the ballot via an e-consultation

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have voted overwhelmingly in favour of balloting for industrial action over this year’s FE pay claim.

According to UCU Left, over 75 per cent of UCU members voted to launch a ballot via an e-consultation on Friday. It will now be determined which of the union's branches will take part in a ballot, and whether industrial action will be part of their plans.

In September, the Association of Colleges (AoC) offered a pay increase of 1 per cent for college staff – significantly less than the 3 per cent pay rise asked for by the National Joint Forum (NJF), which represents the UCU, Unison, the ATL teaching union and its leaders' section AMiE , Unite and GMB. The NJF's request was based on what would be equivalent to the increase in the cost of living, expressed through the Retail Price Index (RPI).

David Hughes, chief executive of the AoC, said he wished that his organisation was in a position to make a better recommendation, “but current funding levels for colleges do not allow us to do so”.

Andrew Harden, head of further education at the UCU, said: "Members will be extremely disappointed that once again the employer offer of 1 per cent is substantially below inflation and fails to address the years of pay suppression that further education staff have endured."

Last month, figures from the UCU, revealed exclusively by Tes, showed that pay in FE colleges had increased by only 4 per cent since 2009 against a rise in the cost of living of 27.6 per cent, expressed through the RPI.

In a letter sent to college principals, Mr Harden said that public sector pay had now become “an issue of national discussion and one that those on all sides of politics accept needs to be addressed”.

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