College strikes over below-inflation pay offers will take place across 10 days in four weeks this autumn, the University and College Union has confirmed.
Picketing line dates have been announced for 26 colleges, 24 of which will begin with three days of industrial action from Monday September 26.
That will then continue the following week on October 6 and 7, October 10 and 11 the week after and a further three days on October 18, 19 and 20.
Chichester College Group had been announced for the 10 days earlier this week at both its Chichester and Crawley sites, but on Thursday the UCU confirmed notifications for those had been pulled to give management more time to make an offer.
Those two colleges will strike from October 6 unless an acceptable offer is received, it said.
The UCU said that there were live mandates to strike over pay at a further nine colleges, meaning more industrial action could happen unless suitable pay offers were made for those.
Staff at Oldham, Burnley and Manchester colleges, which were balloted separately, went on strike on Tuesday and Wednesday last week.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said staff “cannot go on being paid so little”.
“College staff deliver excellent education but over the last twelve years their pay has fallen behind inflation by 35 per cent [since 2009] and now thousands are skipping meals, restricting energy use and considering leaving the sector altogether,” Grady said.
“College leaders need to wake up to this crisis, stop dining off the goodwill of their workforce and make a serious pay offer. Failure to do so will lead to the largest strike action that English further education has ever seen.”
The full strike dates are as follows:
Monday 26 September
Tuesday 27 September
Wednesday 28 September
Thursday 6 October
Friday 7 October
Monday 10 October
Tuesday 11 October
Tuesday 18 October
Wednesday 19 October
Thursday 20 October
In June, the Association of Colleges put forward a 2.5 per cent pay offer to the UCU – up from its 2.25 per cent offer in May.
But union bosses said it was “totally unacceptable”, citing the cost of living crisis and the pay gap with teachers in schools, which is estimated to be up to £9,000.
It called for a 10 per cent rise with a minimum uplift of £2,000.
David Hughes, AoC chief executive, said college leaders want to increase staff pay, but “the money is simply not there”.
“The modest increase in funding rates last year contributed to our increased pay recommendation this year, the largest in over a decade, but this funding has largely been eaten up by soaring inflation and spiralling energy costs,” he said.
“This pay increase is both inadequate compared with inflation but also on the cusp of what is affordable for most colleges.”
The AoC wrote to then-education secretary James Cleverly over the summer outlining a series of priorities in the further education sector, which included a plea to address staff pay.
It warned that it could result in more skills gaps and could hamper the rollout of T Levels and higher technical qualifications. It called for increased funding for skilled shortage subjects.
In a further letter about the cost of energy to the new chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, last week, the AoC requested a new key sector workforce fund to recruit and retain teachers, a VAT exemption for colleges and a review of funding for 16-19 learners, apprenticeships and adult education.
The AoC said: “The college workforce crisis is already limiting training and education opportunities for young people and adults alike.”
UK inflation was recorded at 10.1 per cent by the Office for National Statistics in July.
In July, 89.9 per cent of voting UCU members voted for strike action, with an overall turnout of 57.9 per cent.
The 26 colleges due to strike on those dates are as follows:
- Abingdon & Witney College
- Bath College
- Blackburn College
- Bridgwater and Taunton College
- Chichester College Group (Crawley)
- Chichester College Group (Chichester)
- City College Plymouth
- City of Bristol College
- Croydon College
- Derby College
- Halesowen College
- Hereward College of FE
- Lambeth College
- New College Swindon
- Lewisham College
- Southwark College
- Carlisle College
- Newcastle College (including Newcastle Sixth Form)
- West Lancashire College
- Bournville College of FE
- South & City College Birmingham
- Strode College
- Truro & Penwith College
- Weston College
- Wiltshire College
- Yeovil College
The nine colleges where live mandates remain but dates yet to be announced are:
- Barnet & Southgate College
- Epping Forest College
- Hackney College
- Havering College
- Liverpool College
- Redbridge College
- Sandwell College of FHE
- Sparsholt College Hampshire (including Andover College)
- Tower Hamlets College