Members of the University and College Union attending UCU’s Congress (UCU) today (Sunday) voted to ballot further education colleges across England for strike action.
The ballot will be launched in September and if successful will lead to strikes from October, unless employers meet UCU’s demands over pay, workloads and the Living Wage.
The decision follows an e-ballot of around 18,000 UCU members at 190 college branches in which 87% of members who voted said yes to strike action. Turnout was over 50%.
UCU is demanding a pay offer in excess of RPI inflation, a national workload agreement and binding national pay negotiations. Earlier this month employer body the Association of Colleges refused to make a national pay offer.
UCU members told today’s Congress that the cost-of-living crisis is having a devastating impact on further education workers. This backs up UCU research which shows the vast majority of college staff are financially insecure, impacting the mental health of more than eight in 10 with many being forced to skip meals and restrict hot water use to save money. Seven in 10 said they will leave the sector unless pay and working conditions improve.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: ‘Today our members overwhelmingly voted for plans to win college staff a fair deal. Low pay, high workloads and a bargaining framework that does not deliver for staff have created a crisis in further education.
‘We refuse to allow employers to push our members into poverty, neither will we accept workloads that leave our members working every hour under the sun. Unless they come to the table with a decent offer we will begin balloting at colleges across England from September.’