Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at New College Swindon have suspended a two-day walkout due to begin in the morning (Tuesday) after an eleventh hour breakthrough in talks with the college.
The union said it was pleased with today’s talks and a deal that would open up the college’s pay structure and deliver significant pay rises for staff. A three-day walkout planned for 20 March remains on and will take place if sufficient progress cannot be made in resolving the outstanding issues.
The row 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 pleased that today’s talks have left us in a position where we can suspend this week’s strikes. We hope to continue the negotiations in good faith and also take the March action off the table. For that to happen we will need to finalise a deal that delivers significant pay rises for our members.’
UCU members are still walking out at 13 colleges* in England this week 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 likes of Hugh Baird College, which sorted a last minute deal to avoid strikes earlier today, and Capital City College Group, which recently agreed a 5% pay deal for its 1,700 staff.
* Abingdon and Witney College
Bridgwater and Taunton College
City of Wolverhampton College
East Sussex College
Kendal College ^
Leicester College ^
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 Wednesday 30 January and Tuesday 12 February.