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Strike ballot opens at Barnet & Southgate College over “pitifully low” pay

strike sign

Staff at Barnet and Southgate College are being balloted on whether to take strike action in a long-running dispute over low pay, the University and College Union (UCU) announced today (Tuesday). The ballot opens tomorrow (Wednesday 8 March) and runs until Friday 31 March. 

Staff have already taken three days of strike action in the long-running dispute after college bosses imposed pay awards of just 1% for 2021/22 and 1% for 2020/21 but due to restrictive anti trade-union laws, they have to reballot. The college has now imposed a further pay award of just 2.5% for 2022/23.  

National funding for 16-19 year olds has increased by 8.4% this year and college accounts show Barnet and Southgate finished the year with £2.6m more in the bank than it started the year with, leaving it with almost £8m cash overall, as well as more than £43m in reserves. Whereas some teaching staff at Barnet and Southgate College have told UCU they have to use foodbanks just to get by. Inflation is currently 13.4% and UCU is demanding a meaningful pay rise to help staff meet the cost-of-living crisis.

A UCU report shows the vast majority of college staff in England 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 regional support official Caroline Lake said: ‘I have staff members at Barnet and Southgate College telling me they have to use foodbanks to make it through the month, yet college bosses think it’s okay to hoard millions that could be used to support their employees. Inflation is skyrocketing so it is scandalous that bosses think they can get away with imposing a pitifully low 2.5% pay rise. This is a huge real terms pay cut. 

‘The college has a small window of opportunity to pay its staff properly and stop pushing them into poverty, otherwise they will vote for strike action in overwhelming numbers.’ 

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