Unions 'disappointed' by colleges' 1% pay offer

The Association of Colleges has offered a pay increase of 1 per cent for staff – significantly lower than what the unions had asked for

Will Martin

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College staff have been offered a pay increase of 1 per cent for 2017-18, with the lowest-paid staff receiving an uplift of at least £250.

The offer was tabled yesterday by the Association of Colleges (AoC) to members of the National Joint Forum (NJF) – which represents the University and College Union (UCU), Unison, the ATL teaching union and its leaders' section AMiE, Unite and GMB.

The NJF had proposed a pay rise of RPI plus 3 per cent, with a minimum uplift of £900 for the lowest-paid staff.

Colleges 'disproportionately hit'

David Hughes, AoC chief executive, said: “A major part of the AoC case for better funding to government is to allow the reward packages colleges can offer to be competitive. Every college wants to attract and retain the best people, but it is clear that cuts to FE funding over the last decade have disproportionately hit colleges, impacting directly on their ability to reward staff."

He added: “We wish we were in a position to make a better recommendation today, but current funding levels for colleges do not allow us to do so. We will work closely with the Unions in the coming months to campaign for fair funding for colleges and address the under investment which the sector has faced for too long.”

The AoC represents FE colleges in England in the negotiations, but each college is free to decide whether or not to implement any deal agreed.

'Hugely disappointing'

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 which further education staff have endured. Although the pledge to campaign with joint trade unions for more investment in the sector is welcome and necessary, it does not ease the immediate hardship faced by many dedicated staff. There is now clear agreement on both sides that pay in further education is a problem, but the real question for the sector is what we are going to do about it.”

Jon Richards, head of education at Unison, said: “This offer is hugely disappointing. It will do little to lift workers out of debt and poverty, particularly as colleges are under no obligation to implement it. Many college employees have had to take on second jobs or borrow money from family or friends as they struggle to pay their bills. Colleges know good salaries are vital to attract and retain staff. But if the government continues to underfund further education, workers will seek employment elsewhere.”

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Will Martin picture

Will Martin

Will is a junior reporter at TES

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