The UCU lecturers’ union Further Education Committee (FEC) met on Friday of last week. The ongoing campaign against Gordon Brown’s pay freeze was a major issue.
The national pay offer for further education staff is 2.55 percent for this year. As inflation is over 4 percent this amounts to a pay cut.
Our campaign for decent pay is now well under way – materials have been sent to all colleges and UCU’s general secretary Sally Hunt has emailed members highlighting the campaign and urging us to sign an online Christmas card to our employers, the Association of Colleges (AoC), demanding better pay. This has been signed by thousands of members.
Very importantly, and for the first time ever, we are talking to the National Union of Teachers about coordinating our pay campaigns. We are hoping to ballot at the same time for strike action early next year.
Joint regional pay campaign rallies with the NUT are being planned for the New Year.
UCU Left will be working both to build the pay campaign and to launch the campaign for left candidates in the national executive elections that start in early February.
UCU also plans to hold a conference involving both further and higher education staff in March. It will look at how the market agenda has hit post-16 education and how we can develop a collective strategy in response.
The FEC also discussed a raft of government funding proposals for further education which threaten the cohesion of the sector. These are bound to have major implications for colleges, on their role in our communities, and on the pay and conditions of lecturers.
This will be a central issue for us going into the new year.