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Strike dates announced at 16 English colleges in pay row

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 16 English colleges* will be taking strike action at the end of January in their fight for fair pay. Staff will walk out for two days starting on Tuesday 29 January.

The strikes are part of a second wave of action after UCU members at six colleges took action in November. The dispute centres on the failure of college bosses 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.

The union said further strikes were planned if the colleges refused to make a decent offer and that they could not hide behind government cuts if they wanted to avoid further disruption. UCU said colleges should follow the lead of the Capital City College Group which recently agreed a 5% pay deal for its 1,700 staff.

The union has this week written to education secretary Damian Hinds saying that the government’s ambition for further education cannot be met under its current funding for the sector. In the letter, UCU calls on the government to urgently provide extra funding for staff who feel undervalued and severely underpaid.

UCU head of policy Matt Waddup said:

‘UCU members are being forced to take strike action to secure fair pay because they have had enough of watching their pay being eroded while their workloads increase.

‘The government must take the blame for a failure to invest in further education, but colleges cannot hide behind these cuts to shirk responsibility for their staff. 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 at last prioritising their staff.’

  1. * Abingdon and Witney College
  2. Bath College
  3. Bradford College
  4. Bridgwater and Taunton College
  5. City of Wolverhampton College
  6. Coventry College
  7. Croydon College
  8. East Sussex College
  9. Harlow College
  10. Hugh Baird College
  11. Kendal College ^
  12. Lambeth College
  13. Leicester College ^
  14. New College Swindon
  15. Petroc
  16. West Thames College

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

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