UCU members at 12 English colleges on strike today

UCU members at Croydon College taking strike action in November 2018

UCU members at 12 English colleges are today are walking out as part of a second wave of strikes over pay.

Action is being taken at Abingdon and Witney College, Bath College, Bradford College, Bridgwater and Taunton College
City of Wolverhampton College, Croydon College, East Sussex College, Harlow College, Lambeth College, Leicester College, Petroc and West Thames College. 
Action was suspended yesterday at Swindon College and Hugh Baird College.

The dispute centres on the failure of college bosses to make a decent pay offer to staff who have seen the value of their pay decline by 25% over the last decade.

UCU head of policy Matt Waddup said: “If colleges want to avoid further disruption then they need to come back to the negotiating table with serious deals. Hugh Baird College and Capital City College Group have shown what can be achieved when colleges work with us.

“Colleges that give nothing when they could work with us to tackle poor pay and conditions should expect to reap what they sow. We hope the deals that have been sorted and this latest wave of action will focus the minds of those in charge at the colleges that are refusing to put their staff first.”

The strike in Wolverhampton is being backed by local MP Eleanor Smith, who said: “‘I fully support the hardworking staff at Wolverhampton College, and all the UCU members at colleges across the country, who are taking strike action today. As a former president of UNISON, I know decisions to strike aren’t taken lightly, but this government has decimated college funding, leaving staff pay trailing way behind their counterparts in schools.

‘The government should allocate equivalent funding to colleges so they can give their staff a fair pay rise, comparable to what is being offered to school teachers. The pay issue is indicative of the chronic underfunding of further education colleges. This needs to be reversed.

‘Why does this government think 17 and 18-year-olds in colleges are worth so much less than younger pupils or university students? Colleges provide vital education and training opportunities. The Conservatives are unforgivably letting down both staff and students by neglecting this sector.’

UCU regional official Anne O’Sullivan said: “The support from Eleanor Smith is a real boost for UCU members. She is right to say that this decision has not been taken lightly, but staff feel like they have no other option.

‘They have had enough of increasing workloads while their pay is eroded. The college has to prioritise its staff and come back to us with a meaningful offer. If it refuses then further strikes are on the cards.”

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