NCG resolves bitter pay dispute with its London colleges

A deal has been struck between the country’s largest college group and union members at its two London colleges to settle a long-running bitter pay dispute.

Staff at the Lewisham and Southwark colleges, who were involved in a controversial long-distance merger with NCG last year, took a total of four days’ strike action in May and September this year.

Their paymasters have now agreed to a pay rise of £350 (pro rata for part-time staff) and have also agreed to change the way they calculate strike pay deductions in the future.

“NCG originally deducted 1/260th of members’ annual salary, but has now agreed to take just 1/365th in future and repay the difference on previous deductions,” the UCU said.

“Both sides said they are committed to reviewing incremental pay progression to improve consistency at all NCG colleges. Employees in Carlisle, Kidderminster and Lancashire currently receive the incremental pay progression, but those in Newcastle or London don’t.”

The settlement comes a month after NCG’s chief executive Joe Docherty resigned and after Lewisham Southwark College decoupled to become two separate colleges again.

Staff at the colleges have been in uproar following “years of real-terms pay cuts”.

The UCU claims that staff have been offered only one pay increase – of just 1 per cent – in five years and, unlike other London colleges, they don’t receive the London weighting allowance.

Chris Payne, interim chief executive of NCG, said: “We’re pleased to have found a solution to this issue and we’re committed to further developing the long term relationship with our trade union partners.”

UCU regional official Iain Owens said: “UCU members at Lewisham and Southwark colleges have accepted the new package on offer and we now want to work with NCG to get them onto the pay progression system enjoyed by NCG employees elsewhere in the country.”