Striking staff at West Thames College have been given a boost on their second day of strike action over pay as local MP Seema Malhotra has given them her full support in their fight for fairer pay.

 

The Feltham and Heston MP said that proper pay for University and College Union (UCU) members braving freezing picket lines was long overdue. Staff were out on picket lines at entrances to the college’s Isleworth campus both this morning (Wednesday) and yesterday on a two-day walkout.

 

Yesterday morning they were joined on the picket line by Brentford and Isleworth MP Ruth Cadbury who said that government’s “heartless austerity programme” was behind the fall in staff wages. Teachers in further education colleges are currently paid £7,000 less than their contemporaries teaching in schools.

 

In the recent ballot, 100% of UCU members at West Thames College who voted backed strike action. The union said further strikes were planned if the college refused to make a decent offer and that it could not hide behind government cuts if it wanted to avoid further disruption.

 

The union said if colleges wanted to avoid further disruption, they needed to follow the lead of the likes of Hugh Baird College, which agreed a last minute deal with UCU on Monday, and Capital City College Group, which recently agreed a 5% pay deal for its 1,700 staff.

 

Seema Malhotra MP said: ‘Further education colleges are vital to our local communities and the time for proper pay for staff is long overdue. Cuts to further education funding are having a devastating impact on colleges, staff and students. 

 

‘I fully support the efforts of UCU members at West Thames College in their fight for fair pay. The sector has been overlooked for too long and I call on government to commit to an increase in funding and for colleges to ensure staff are properly paid.’

 

UCU regional official Una O’Brien said: ‘The support from Seema Malhotra is a real boost for UCU members in their fight for fair pay. She is right that a pay rise is long overdue and that cuts are having a devastating impact on our colleges. .

 

‘Staff at West Thames College have had enough of seeing their workloads increase while their pay is eroded. The college has to prioritise its staff and come back to us with a meaningful offer. If it refuses then further strikes are on the cards.’

 

UCU members at 13 English colleges* are walking out as part of a second wave of strikes after staff at six colleges took action in November. Around two-thirds of college heads have said pay is a major obstacle in attracting staff.

 

* Colleges out on 29 and 30 January

Abingdon and Witney College

Bath College

Bradford College

Bridgwater and Taunton College

City of Wolverhampton College

Croydon College

East Sussex College

Harlow College

Kendal College ^

Lambeth College

Leicester College ^

Petroc

West Thames College

 

^ In order to maximise the impact of their action, Leicester College UCU members are taking action on Tuesday 29 and Thursday 31 January and members at Kendal College will be taking action on 30 January and 12 February.

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