By Sophie Squire
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Workers set for autumn pay strikes at 15 colleges

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Issue 2764
UCU members at Lambeth College in south London strike for higher pay in 2019
UCU members at Lambeth College in south London strike for higher pay in 2019 (Pic: Guy Smallman)

Workers at 15 colleges across Britain have voted for strikes in the autumn term.

Members of the UCU union were balloted last month over whether to strike over pay.

Most of the colleges that passed the thresholds demanded by anti-union laws did so with yes votes of over 80 percent.

And colleges such as City of Bristol College and the Capital City College Group returned ballots of over 94 percent in favour of action.

Earlier this year the employers’ body the Association of Colleges (AoC) recommended a measly pay rise of just 1 percent for those working in further education (FE).

This is unacceptable especially as FE workers have suffered a real terms pay cuts of 30 percent in the past decade.

Further education is set to receive £400 million in funding from the government, and over half of this has already been awarded. The AoC has said that its recommended pay rise would be conditional to this funding—yet still only suggested 1 percent.

UCU is demanding that employers grant workers a five percent pay rise.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said, “This ballot result is an emphatic message from college staff to principals that they will not sit back while their pay is held down.

“Thanks to UCU’s campaigning, colleges received an injection of government funding, but they have failed to work with us to prioritise pay.

“Instead, employers have recommended a derisory 1 percent pay rise, which is a real term pay cut.

“College leaders urgently need to come to the negotiating table or they will face severe disruption in the autumn.”

It is worth noting that the Unison union is also balloting for strikes in 50 colleges, also to take place in the autumn term.

A coordinated strike in FE could push back against the Tories’ attacks on education and push for better and conditions for workers.

This ballot will also serve as a boost to all of those pushing for action in universities for the autumn term.

Colleges that crossed the threshold for strikes include:

  • Lambeth College
  • Weymouth College
  • Croydon College
  • City of Liverpool College
  • City College Plymouth
  • City of Bristol College
  • Sheffield College
  • New College Swindon
  • South Thames Group (Merton College, Wandsworth and Tooting College, Carshalton College and Kingston College)
  • Capital City College Group (City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and College of Northeast London)

Strike to bury closure

UCU union members at the University of Sheffield are set to ballot over whether to strike in defence of their archaeology department.

A meeting of 200 members voted to ballot on whether to take sustained “sustained industrial action”.

Plans to close the archaeology department have been met with anger from staff, students and the general public.

So far the university has been sent 2,300 letters of protest, and 47,000 people have signed a petition to save the department.

Vice chancellor Koen Lamberts has also come under fire over the treatment of staff and students.

No one was allowed to ask any questions of him during a 13 minute meeting on the plans.

University of Sheffield UCU Branch officer Robyn Orfitelli said, “We will escalate our fight until management is willing to listen.”

Workers and students at Chester university were set to protest on Saturday of this week against redundancy plans.

Bosses initially announced plans to make some 86 members of staff at the university redundant.

They have since said they want to sack fewer people—but jobs are still at risk.

Join the protest outside Chester Town hall at 12pm on Saturday 24 July. The @ChesterUcu twitter account has also asked people to tweet messages of support in a “twitter storm” on Saturday using the hashtags #reclaimouruniversity and #noredundancieschester.


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