Staff at six colleges on strike today over pay

UCU members across the North West of England are today on strike over pay.

The six colleges facing a day of strike action are Burnley College, City of Liverpool College, Hopwood Hall, Nelson & Colne College Group and Oldham College. Staff at The Manchester College will take strike action on Friday. You can donate to the union’s fighting fund here.

Members at Bury College last night called off their strike after accepting a last-ditch pay offer.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: “The offer made by Bury College in recognition of our members’ incredible work is great news for both staff and students. It means the college is now able to avoid disruption during this crucial examination period.

To avoid further strike action, management at the other colleges need to look at Bury and see what can be achieved when bosses engage with us on pay. With inflation and energy costs soaring, they urgently need to raise pay so we can avoid any further disruption.”

 From tomorrow staff will also be taking action short of strike, which includes working to contract, not covering for absent colleagues or vacant posts, and not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action. Staff at The Manchester College will begin action short of a strike on Monday.

Staff will be a picket lines at college entrances from 8am on the day of the strikes and an in-person rally will take place at 11am on Friday 20 May near the Openshaw Campus of The Manchester College.

UCU expects around 900 staff across the seven colleges to down tools, and over 50,000 students could be impacted. The strikes  take place the same day that many students are due to sit their GCSE English language exam.

UCU is demanding the colleges increase pay by at least 8.5% to meet the cost of living crisis. Since 2009 pay in further education has fallen behind inflation by 35% and the pay gap between school and college teachers stands at around £9k. Westminster recently announced the biggest increase in further education funding in more than a decade.

In 2021, the Westminster government announced an 8.4% increase in funding targeted at those in England aged 16-17 years old, the biggest rise in funding for further education in more than decade and coming after £240m in additional funding announced in 2018.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: “Our members take huge pride in educating and supporting students, and striking during exams is a last resort, but staff are rightly outraged that their bosses have repeatedly held down pay. Now as inflation and energy costs soar, bosses urgently need to raise pay so we can avoid any further disruption. The money is there and college leaders need to show they appreciate their staff, we urge employers to do the right thing and give staff a pay rise.”

UCU regional official Iain Owens said: “Staff at Furness College are rightly insulted that management has only offered a paltry offer of 1%, which is a huge real term pay cut. Staff have already seen their pay eroded after more than a decade of low ball pay offers. Now as inflation sky rockets and staff struggle to pay their bills, management need to come back with an improved offer. Further strikes are on the cards if management refuses to do so.”

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