Burnley College staff could strike over pay
The University and College Union today (Friday) warned the leaders of colleges in the North West that strike action is on the cards unless staff pay demands are met.
Over 1,000 UCU members at Hopwood Hall, Bury, Burnley, Oldham, The Manchester, and City of Liverpool colleges were asked in a consultative ballot whether they were willing to take strike action in support of an ‘inflation plus’ pay claim .
At Burnley College, 84% of members from a turnout of 60% voted yes to strike action.
They overwhelmingly turned out to vote yes. A consultative ballot is the first step on the path to industrial action. UCU will move to a statutory industrial action ballot, and potential strike action, unless its demands are met. If strikes were to take place over 40,000 students could be impacted.
UCU is demanding that the colleges increase pay by at least the level of inflation for 2021/22. This would mean pay increases of at least 8.5%. Since 2009 pay in further education has fallen by 35% in real terms and the gap between school and college teachers stands at around £9k.
The UK government has now announced an 8.4% increase in funding targeted at 16-19 year olds. This is the biggest rise in funding for further education in more than decade and comes after £240m. was announced in 2018.
The union said that the seven North West colleges now need to do the right thing and invest in their employees so that staff can meet the steep rise in the cost of living. It said that if management refuse to do the honourable thing and pay staff more, then the union would be forced to move to industrial ballots for strike action.
UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: "College staff work incredibly hard to support students but have endured more than a decade of real term pay cuts. Due to soaring inflation they now face a cost of living crisis. We believe these colleges can afford to pay staff more.
"Management need to do the right thing and negotiate with us and give staff a decent pay rise or they risk industrial ballots and potential strike action."