UCU agrees deal to end long-running dispute at cash-strapped college

A deal to end a long-running dispute at Bradford College has been reached after it agreed to a series of measures to improve staff security and pay – including an extra five days’ annual leave.

Members of the University and College Union had taken 10 days of strike action between November 2018 and July 2019 in their campaign against the proposed axing of over 130 jobs.

The college has now agreed to rule out compulsory job losses and awarded all staff an extra five days’ holiday per year.

Staff on hourly-paid contracts will also be moved to permanent roles with better pay.

UCU regional official Julie Kelley said the deal “improves the job security, status and pay for staff” at Bradford College.

She called insecure contracts “a blight on the sector and bad for both staff and students.

“Nobody ever wants to take strike action, but these improvements are a testament to members’ determination to fight for a fairer deal.”

According to the UCU in July, staff at the college have only had a single 1 per cent pay rise in the last 11 years, and have seen their pay decline by 25 per cent in real terms over that period.

A spokesperson for Bradford College said: “We are pleased with the outcomes that have been agreed.

“To resolve the long running pay dispute the college has awarded staff additional annual leave through College closures at Christmas and Easter and established a policy and agreement around anti-casualisation through a new Contracts of Employment Policy.

“The executive leadership team recognises the commitment and dedication of all college employees and also the positive progress made with UCU in recent months.”

In June FE Week revealed officials from the Department for Education forced a major bank – Lloyds – to halve a £40 million unsecured loan after threatening to put Bradford College into insolvency earlier this year.

The college said it was “grateful” to both the department and bank for being kept afloat as it tried to find a further £3.5 million in savings.