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Strikes on at West Thames College this week

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at West Thames College will be on strike today and tomorrow (Tuesday and Wednesday) in a row over pay after talks broke down at the end of last week.

Staff will be on picket lines from 8am tomorrow outside the London Road entrances to the college’s Isleworth campus. 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% in the past decade. In the recent ballot 100% of UCU members at West Thames College who voted backed strike action.

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

UCU regional official Una O’Brien said: ‘Strike action is always a last resort, but unless West Thames College prioritises its staff then there is going to be disruption. It is not acceptable for colleges to say finances are tight and nothing can be done. Other colleges have shown what can be achieved when they engage seriously with us on pay and conditions.’

The action is part of sustained nationwide campaign for fair pay in colleges. UCU members at nine English colleges walked out last month as part of a third wave of strikes after staff at 13 colleges walked out in January and UCU members at six colleges took action in November. The pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools currently stands at £7,000 and around two-thirds of college heads have said pay is a major obstacle in attracting staff.

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