Union warns against another ‘shoddy’ pay deal on eve of college pay talks

The University and College Union has written to Anne Milton before key pay talks, to warn it will not put up with another “shoddy” deal.

The union wrote to the skills minister today ahead of tomorrow’s sit down with the Association of Colleges, in which it is looking to secure a pay offer better than the 1 per cent increase recommended last year.

In its letter, UCU claims that FE has reached “a crisis point on pay”. After a “decade of real terms pay cuts”, senior lecturers are now earning around £9,000 a year less than they would if their pay had simply kept pace with inflation, it says.

And even in colleges that have honoured the pay recommendations from the AoC, staff have “suffered a real terms pay cut of 25 per cent since 2009”. 

The letter states that “failure to properly reward staff means that teachers in further education are now earning around £7,000 per year less on average than teachers in schools”.

It adds that the current review of post-18 education, including funding, led by Philip Augar will not report in time for next year’s pay round.

“The truth is that UCU members simply cannot afford to hear once again that there is no money for a proper pay rise,” said Sally Hunt (pictured).

The general secretary of the union also warned that FE staff will continue to strike, like they have done in droves throughout this year, if better pay is not secured.

“If the sector is to continue attracting experienced and dedicated staff to deliver for students, colleges need to make decent pay and conditions for staff a central priority,” said Ms Hunt.

“UCU members have already shown this year that they are prepared to take strike action to defend and improve their pay.

“After years of warm words, it is time for the government to step to the mark on funding for further education and for the employers to bring a sensible offer to the table.”

Trade unions wrote to the AoC last month to spell out exactly why they have resubmitted a claim for a raise of five per cent for the next academic year.

They originally made the request at a meeting at the start of May, but the AoC said it would not consider a claim while some colleges were still in dispute with the University and College Union.

Later that month the AoC, which represents college leadership, backed down.

The unions want a guaranteed minimum increase of £1,500 for the lowest-paid staff where a five-per-cent rise is lower than £1,500.

They also want colleges to pay the living wage of £8.75 (£10.20 in London) and become accredited living wage employers.