Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at six English colleges* will be taking strike action on Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 November as the first wave of industrial action begins in the fight for fairer pay.
As staff walk out at the six striking colleges, ballots of UCU members at 26 more institutions^ will open. Those ballots close on Wednesday 19 December.
The dispute centres on the failure of college bosses to make a decent pay offer to staff who have seen their pay decline by 25% over the last decade. The pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools currently stands at £7,000.
While the chancellor found £400m for “little extras” for schools in the recent budget, he did nothing to boost funding in colleges. This was despite a recent report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies that that revealed how funding for colleges had been cut “much more sharply” since 2010 than any other area of education.
The union said low pay was bad for staff, students and colleges. Around two-thirds of college heads said pay is a major obstacle for them when it comes to attracting staff. A report comparing international further education systems warned that cuts in English further education funding have weakened colleges and that staff had not received a pay rise for an “unconscionably long time”.
UCU head of policy and campaigns Matt Waddup said:
‘Staff in further education colleges have seen their pay systematically eroded in recent years and are being paid £7,000 less than schoolteachers.
‘While the government must take the blame for their failure to invest in further education, colleges can and must do more to support their staff. Staff at six colleges in England will be leading the strikes this winter as ballots open at another 26 institutions.
‘UCU will continue to campaign for more investment from the government but whether this is forthcoming or not, strikes are likely to continue in the new year until colleges show that they are at last prioritising their staff.’
* The Colleges where UCU members are on strike on Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 November:
- Bath College
- Bradford College
- Croydon College
- Lambeth College
- New College Swindon
**The 26 colleges where ballots on pay will open on Wednesday 28 November (and close on Wednesday 19 December):
- Abingdon & Witney College
- Barnsley College
- Bournville College
- Bridgwater and Taunton College
- Carshalton College
- City College Plymouth
- City Literary Institute
- City of Bristol College
- City of Wolverhampton College
- Coventry College
- East Riding College
- East Sussex College Group
- Harlow College
- Havering College
- Hugh Baird College
- Kendal College
- Kingston College
- Leicester College
- Morley College
- Richmond upon Thames College
- South and City College Birmingham
- South Thames College
- Strode College
- Truro and Penwith College
- West Thames College
- Wiltshire College