Delegates representing some 100 UCU union branches in further education colleges across England voted at a special conference last Saturday to ballot over pay.
FE lecturers are facing a pay cut in real terms this year. They have been given a pay offer worth 2.55 percent.
FE lecturers’ salaries have fallen significantly behind those of school teachers over the last 15 years.
The combination of increased workload, privatisation and an increasingly aggressive management culture in colleges has led to a feeling of bitterness and anger in the workplace.
In some colleges, lecturers feel demoralised after many years when action over pay claims has had limited success.Some delegates argued that we should reluctantly accept this year’s deal and focus on next year’s claim.
However the argument that this year’s pay claim offered a real prospect of campaigning and striking alongside other public sector unions won the day.
Many delegates also argued that accepting a pay cut this year would put us in a worse position to mobilise the membership for action next year.
If we are going to get a strong vote to reject the current offer and for strike action, we will need a dynamic campaign starting straight away in every college.
We need to argue strongly for a vote to reject the pay cut and to launch a campaign of strike action, coordinated with other public sector workers.