UCU union members across six colleges are expected to strike over pay on 28 and 29 November.
The union is demanding a 5 percent rise or a fixed increase of £1,500 for workers who earn less than £30,000 a year.
Mandy Brown is joint branch secretary of the UCU at Lambeth College in south London.
“The situation in further education is so bad it doesn’t take much to get people to want to strike,” she told Socialist Worker.
Workers there are also engaged in a local dispute with college bosses because workers on new contracts receive ten days’ less holiday.
Some 85 percent of workers who voted backed strikes in a recent ballot of 107 colleges. But only four reached a turnout of 50 percent or more, plus two in separate ballots.
The UCU plans to reballot branches that achieved a turnout of 35 percent or more from 28 November.
The UCU union has ended a pay dispute at Lewisham and Southwark Colleges. They are part of the NCG group of colleges.
Workers had only been offered a 1 percent pay rise in five years and unlike other colleges didn’t receive London weighting. The union said they will now receive a £350 pay rise, and pro-rata for part time workers.
Other NCG colleges will receive incremental pay progression.
The UCU said it hoped to win incremental pay progression at Lewisham and Southwark in the future.
A UCU union higher education conference on pay voted to reballot all branches over pay.
UCU members at universities recently voted for strikes over pay. But the majority of branches didn’t reach the 50 percent turnout threshold required for a legal walkout.
Delegates passed another motion calling for the union to ballot on the pay claim for 2019-20 at the end of March.
Many wanted swifter action. Carlo Morelli, a UCU national executive committee, told Socialist Worker, “If we ballot in March, it’s not clear when you can strike.
“Easter is followed by exams, and universities have different timetables.”
A conference on pensions followed the pay debate.
But the chair told delegates from newer universities they didn’t need to stay because it concerned a dispute in older universities. That meant that the conference on pensions wasn’t quorate.
Unison union members met to build support of their current ballot to strike over proposed pension cuts.
Straight afterwards the living wage campaign held a rally calling on the university to accredit itself with the living wage foundation.
The NEU union was set to start an indicative ballot for strikes over pay on Thursday of this week.
The ballot covers all teachers in state-funded schools and sixth form colleges in England.
The Tories have refused to implement the School Teachers’ Review Body’s (STRB) recommendation of a 3.5 percent pay rise for all teachers or to fully fund any increases.
The NEU is demanding full implementation of the STRB and more funding for schools.
The ballot ends in January.
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