Strike ballot over ‘derisory’ pay for college staff

Hundreds of further education (FE) staff will today (23 Apr) vote on taking strike action over pay, says UNISON.

Employees at 14 colleges* across England will take part in the ballot including institutions in Bradford, Norwich and Brighton.

The dispute is over a national pay offer** from employers which UNISON has rejected and described as ‘derisory’.

The vote on strike action follows a consultation in January involving 11,000 FE college employees. These included administration workers, learning support staff and those in finance.

UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “These are among the lowest paid workers in colleges.

“Many are struggling to make ends meet or even afford food. This pay offer is derisory – it’s time employers gave staff a decent pay rise.”

The colleges taking part in the ballot over the national pay offer are Lambeth, Bradford, Leeds College of Building, York, Leeds City, Greater Brighton Metropolitan, Abingdon and Witney, Blackburn, Wirral Metropolitan, Bolton, Warwickshire Colleges Group, Norwich City and LTE Group (known as Manchester College). Liverpool City is running a separate ballot because its dispute also covers employment terms and conditions.

In its 2018-19 pay claim, UNISON asked for a 5% pay rise or a fixed increase of £1,500. This was for staff earning less than £30,000 a year. However, the Association of Colleges made a 1% pay recommendation or £250 – whichever is greater.

A recent UNISON survey revealed that one in 50 FE college staff has been forced to rely on a food bank.

UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors. 


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