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Strike ballot to open at Oaklands College in St Albans

Strikes at Oaklands College could be the cards as a ballot for strike action opens tomorrow (Thursday).

The ballot of members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the St Albans college will close on Monday 11 March. If staff back strike action, they will join colleagues at other colleges in a third wave of strikes over pay and conditions in March.

Previously, UCU members at six colleges took action in November and staff at 13 colleges walked out last month. The dispute centres on the failure of colleges to make a decent pay offer to staff who have seen the value of their pay decline by 25% over the last decade.

The pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools currently stands at £7,000. UCU said low pay was bad for staff, students and colleges, while around two-thirds of college heads said pay is a major obstacle for them when it comes to attracting staff.

UCU said colleges that wanted to avoid disruption needed to work with the union to resolve disputes. The Capital City College Group recently agreed a 5% pay deal with the union for its 1,700 staff. While Hugh Baird College and New College Swindon agreed eleventh hour packages that saw UCU members suspend strike action.

UCU regional official Jane Thompson said: ‘Staff at Oaklands College are fed up with seeing their pay held down and believe the college can afford more than it is currently offering. The college’s refusal to make a fair offer has left staff with no alternative but to ballot for strike action.

‘Staff have had enough of the excuses for poor pay and conditions. UCU will continue to campaign for more investment from the government but, whether this is forthcoming or not, strikes will continue until colleges show that they are prioritising their staff.’

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