Five north east colleges set to strike this month

Teachers at Education Training Collective will walk out for two days over 2022/23 pay offer

Teachers at Education Training Collective will walk out for two days over 2022/23 pay offer

Staff at five colleges in the north east will strike later this month over a pay dispute with college group Education Training Collective (ETC).

Staff at Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training Group, Stockton Riverside College, The Skills Academy and Redcar and Cleveland College voted to take to the picket lines on March 20 and 21 after rejecting their employer’s pay offer for 2022/23.

The dispute is over the 22/23 pay award of 3 per cent, with an additional 1 per cent from May 2023.

Members rejected the offer after union officials declared it did not include any improvement on pay and was limited to an extra two “wellbeing days” and additional points on the lecturer and course leader pay scales starting on August 1, 2024.

The ETC said the group’s financial position “does not allow” for a higher pay offer and that the award is higher than the Association of Colleges 2022/23 recommendation of 2.5 per cent. It has though offered a 6.5 per cent pay award for 2023/24 in line with the AoC recommendation.

The University and College Union (UCU) said it will open a new strike ballot this week (March 6) if the ETC does not settle the dispute. If the ballot succeeds, staff will continue industrial action for a further six months.

Workers at Stockton Riverside College will picket on the morning of March 20 and Redcar and Cleveland College will strike the morning of March 21.

The strikes come after 79 per cent of UCU members voted for the strikes in two weeks’ time. Turnout was 64 per cent.

UCU regional support official Chris Robinson said: ‘Since we won our original strike ballot last September management has not put one extra penny on the table to resolve this dispute. If ETC is really serious about ending this dispute, it will get back around the table and put up a serious offer. If it fails to do so the college group will face further disruption.’

A spokesperson for the Education Training Collective said: “We are disappointed to learn that the University and College Union members have voted to strike relating to this ongoing dispute. There is a continuing desire to bring this dispute to a resolution, however the group’s financial position – as shared in committee meetings with trade unions – does not allow for further percentage increases to consolidated pay.

“Unfortunately, to date, we have not been able to find a mutually agreeable solution on our pay offer of 3 per cent from 1st August 2022, which was then increased by an additional 1 per cent from May 2023.  This was higher than the Association of Colleges’ recommendation.

“For 2023/24, we have already tabled a further offer, which, in line with Association of Colleges guidance, passes on, in full, the additional funding outlined by the Department for Education to our staff members. That offer is a 6.5 per cent across the board pay increase, and this was implemented, in the interim, for all staff from 1st October 2023. We have since strengthened this offer with additional benefits such as the two consolidated well-being days and improvements to lecturer and course leader pay scales from August 2024.

“In effect, this means, that between August 2022 and October 2023, ETC pay scales have been uplifted by 10.5 percentage points. Our pay rates compare favourably to other local colleges.”

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