The defence of Further and Adult education is urgent. With over one million adult education places gone in the past five years, FE is fighting for its life.
It is with this understanding that branches have entered fights for better pay and conditions. Forty colleges have been balloted over pay and conditions over the last two years, resulting in significant wins.
Only three failed to get over the Tory 50 percent turnout threshold. Some 117 days of strikes have been taken. The branches that struck the most won the most.
The first college that made a breakthrough was Sandwell, with a 6 percent pay offer over three years. This broke the 1 percent recommendation by the bosses’ Association of Colleges.
Next Capital City College Group (CCCG) won a 5 percent pay offer for 2018/19. The deal also meant 50 members of staff were made permanent.
Then Bootle College won a deal worth between 4 percent and 6 percent over two years. And now after ten days of strikes at Lambeth College, management agreed to a 3 percent pay offer.
Workers also won a one off payment of £250 to all staff who earn below £26,000, plus other benefits. This is a college that for years declared itself bankrupt and in severe financial deficit.
We have been successful when branches have gone on the offensive. To win more funding for the sector we need more branches to enter the nationally coordinated campaigns.
But to secure these victories for the long term we need more government funding for FE and an end to incorporation.