Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at Nottingham College will walk out on Wednesday (11 September) in the first of a mammoth 15 days of strike action as part of a row over new contracts.

Staff will be on picket lines from 7.30am at the main college entrances including those on Maid Marian Way,  on Pelham Avenue at the Clarendon Campus and the outside Adams Building in the Lace Market.

The college faces weeks of walkouts throughout September and October after members voted to stage a one-day walkout this week, escalating to strikes of two, three, four and five days in subsequent weeks.

The full strike dates are:

Week 1: Wednesday 11 September

Week 2: Thursday 19 and Friday 20 September

Week 3: Monday 23, Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 September

Week 4: Monday 30 September, Tuesday 1, Thursday 3, and Friday 4 October

Week 5: Monday 7, Tuesday 8, Wednesday 9, Thursday 10 and Friday 11 October

The dispute centres on the college’s move to impose new contracts which leave over 80 staff more than £1,000 a year worse off, as well as removing key protections designed to protect staff against work overload. Staff at the college have not received a pay rise since 2010.

UCU said its members were furious that the college had threatened to dismiss staff refusing to sign up to the new contracts, which also cut holiday entitlements. In the recent ballot, 96% of UCU members who voted backed strike action.

Staff at the college previously walked out for a one-day strike on Monday 1 July and warned then that if the college did not come back to the table prepared to seriously negotiate then further action would follow. UCU said it had given the college ample opportunity to resolve the dispute over the summer but members’ resolve had been hardened by the college’s uncompromising approach.

Following the Chancellor’s pledge to boost further education funding by £400m last week, UCU said the college could no longer use funding as an excuse for refusing to address members’ concerns. The union has called for the college to urgently return to negotiations with an improved offer in order to avoid weeks of serious disruption.

The union said if the college had any interest in avoiding lengthy disruption then it should follow the likes of Capital City College Group and Hugh Baird College, who agreed deals with UCU to address low pay and improve conditions for their staff.

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UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, said:

‘UCU members at Nottingham College are rightly furious at the college’s attempts to force staff into these damaging new contracts. As well as hitting many members’ pay packets, the new contracts remove vital protections against work overload. These changes increase the risk that staff will burn out or simply leave the college, impacting on the student experience.

‘Strike action is always a last resort, but staff are sending a clear message that they will not tolerate this attack on their pay and conditions and the college’s uncompromising approach has only hardened their resolve. Following last week’s announcement, the college cannot use funding as an excuse for refusing to address members’ concerns; if it wants to avoid weeks of serious disruption it needs to come back to the negotiating table urgently with a better offer.’

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