Socialist Worker

New pay strikes to hit a dozen colleges

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2596

Tower Hamlets College picketing during a previous strike

Tower Hamlets College picketing during a previous strike (Pic: Richard McEwan)

Workers at 12 colleges are set to strike next Tuesday in a row over pay. Seven will strike for three days, while the rest will hold two days of strikes.

The action follows a two-day strike at 14 colleges last month and a 24-hour strike at Sunderland College.

UCU union members are fighting a below-inflation 1 percent pay deal, but the individual colleges have other grievances too. These include workload, holiday entitlement and observation policies.

Richard, a UCU member at Tower Hamlets College, said a recent series of mergers had “wound people up”.

“It feels to a lot of people like a takeover,” he told Socialist Worker. “And the colleges are spending less of their money on wages while a lot of heads of department get pay rises.”

Overall some 91 percent of workers at affected colleges backed strikes, on an average turnout of 63 percent.

The 1 pay percent deal on offer is a real terms cut of 3 percent once inflation is taken into account. And it follows years of real terms cuts to college workers’ pay.

The UCU said that even in colleges that have agreed to bosses’ recommended pay increases, workers are 25 percent worse off than they were in 2009.

Yet the average principal’s salary has gone up by £17,000 in the same period—from £120,000 to £137,000.

Lambeth College striker Susan told Socialist Worker, “It’s really difficult.

“Everything’s gone up and pay has stayed exactly the same. You can’t square the circle.

“And it’s quite upsetting when senior management award themselves such generous pay packages.”

Lambeth College UCU rep Mandy added, “They’ve spent money on fancy new buildings while making more staff cuts.

“And we’ve had an increase in our pension contributions. People are very angry.”

City and Islington, College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, Westminster Kingsway, Croydon, Lambeth and Sandwell will strike for three days from Tuesday.
Those at the City of Westminster College and the College of North West London will strike for two days from Wednesday. Havering College will strike for 48 hours from Tuesday.

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