Half of college strikes planned for this week called off

Half of the 10 strikes planned at colleges across the country this week have either been suspended or called off.

The University and College Union told FE Week that Bridgwater and Taunton has settled its dispute ahead of action that was due to start tomorrow, joining New College Swindon, which on Friday announced it had agreed to a staff pay deal which included a two per cent raise, backdated to August.

The dispute at Bridgwater and Taunton has been resolved as members voted to accept a deal that includes the end of graded lesson observations, and a two per cent pay rise over nine months.

Meanwhile, staff at Bath, Petroc and City of Wolverhampton colleges have also suspended their walk-outs after last-minute talks took place which discussed improved pay offers for staff.

If the talks end up failing, it is expected staff at the colleges will strike next month instead.

“Those statements of intent need to be matched by actions in further negotiations if we are to avoid further disruption,” the UCU said.

But strikes at Bradford, Harlow, Croydon and South Bank colleges are still going ahead from Wednesday to Friday, while West Thames Colleges started a three-day strike on Monday.

These follow two previous waves of walk-outs that took place in November and at the end of January.

Andrew Harden, UCU head of further education, said: “Strike action is always a last resort and we are pleased that some colleges have worked with us to prioritise their staff and avoid disruption for students.

“We have always said colleges who engage with us on the pay and conditions of their staff will get a positive hearing and we are extremely frustrated that some chose not to do this.”

The UCU has been campaigning for better staff pay in FE after finding pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools currently stands at £7,000, and staff have “seen the value of their pay decline by 25 per cent over the last decade”.

The ten colleges planning to strike this week were:

College Status
Bradford  On
Harlow On
South Bank College (previously Lambeth College) On
Croydon College  On
West Thames College On (Mon-Wes)
Bridgwater & Taunton  Settled
New College Swindon  Settled
Bath Suspended
Petroc Suspended
City of Wolverhampton Suspended