Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at New College Swindon will be taking strike action next week after talks between the union and college broke down.
Staff will walk out for two days on Tuesday 29 January and Wednesday 30 January in their fight for fair pay. They will be on picket lines outside the New College Drive entrance to the college from 8am on both days. This latest action comes after UCU members initially walked out for two days in November.
The dispute centres on the failure of the college to make a decent pay offer to staff who have seen the value of their pay decline by 25% in the past decade. The pay gap between schoolteachers and teachers in colleges is now £7,000. In the recent ballot, over three-quarters (78%) of UCU members at New College Swindon who voted backed strike action.
UCU regional official Nick Varney said:
‘We are disappointed that the talks have not got us anywhere. Strike action is always a last resort for staff, but the college needs to understand it can’t keep kicking the issue of pay into the long grass. The college needs to prioritise its staff and come back to us with a meaningful offer. If it refuses then further strikes remain on the cards.’
UCU members are walking out at 15 colleges* in England as part of the campaign for fair pay. UCU said colleges could not hide behind government cuts and if they wanted to avoid further disruption they should follow the lead of the Capital City College Group which recently agreed a 5% pay deal for its 1,700 staff.
Around two-thirds of college heads said pay is a major obstacle for them when it comes to attracting staff. A report comparing international further education systems warned that cuts in English further education funding have weakened colleges and that staff had not received a pay rise for an “unconscionably long time”.
* Abingdon and Witney College
Bridgwater and Taunton College
City of Wolverhampton College
East Sussex College
Hugh Baird College
Kendal College ^
Leicester College ^
New College Swindon
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.