UCU plans 15 days of strikes at college involved in contracts row

A college involved in a bitter row over pay is facing weeks of staff walkouts when the new academic year starts – with plans for a mammoth 15 days of strike action during September and October.

Members of the University and Colleges Union are angry about new contracts being offered by Nottingham College, which it claims would leave over 80 staff more than £1,000 a year worse off.

The union said its members were furious at the college’s “deplorable tactic” of threatening to dismiss staff who refuse to sign up to them.

It said staff had made their frustrations clear at a meeting last week where they unanimously backed the extensive walkouts.  

The strikes will start with a one day walkout on Wednesday 11 September, escalating to strikes of two, three, four and five days in subsequent weeks.

Staff at the college walked out for a one-day strike on 1 July.

UCU said the proposed contracts would also see all staff lose up to eight days’ holiday, cuts to sick pay, and the removal of an agreement designed to protect staff against work overload.

A spokesperson added that staff at the college have not received a pay rise since 2010.

UCU head of further education, Andrew Harden, said: “UCU members at Nottingham College are furious at the way they are being treated. Threatening dismissal in order to strong-arm staff into signing a new contract is a deplorable tactic that we haven’t seen in further education for many years, and one which our members will resist with full force.

“The college is completely out of step with what is happening elsewhere in the sector, where we have been working positively with good employers to improve conditions for staff.

“In announcing 15 days of action, staff at the college are sending a clear message that they will not be cowed by their employer. If the college wants to avoid serious disruption it needs to start negotiating with us in earnest.”

A Nottingham College spokesperson said: “We are saddened that our UCU colleagues have voted to pursue further and extensive strike action. Everybody in the college cares passionately about providing our students with the best possible education and we are continuing to talk to UCU in an attempt to reach a collective agreement and avoid any further strike action.

“While we respect the rights of our staff to take industrial action our priority will be to ensure we do everything we can to ensure students’ studies, health, safety and welfare are not affected.

“The college will remain open as usual throughout any industrial action.”

The full strike dates are:

Week 1: 11 September

Week 2: 19 and 20 September

Week 3: 23, 24 and 25 September

Week 4: 30 September, 1, 3, and 4 October

Week 5: 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 October