London college group threatened with strikes over pay and ‘fire and rehire’ tactics

The University and College Union said their members will not 'have a gun put to their head by their employer'

The University and College Union said their members will not 'have a gun put to their head by their employer'

17 Jun 2022, 14:44

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New City College is being threatened with strike action over a pay and workload dispute, as well as alleged plans to “fire and rehire” staff.

The University and College Union said their members will not “have a gun put to their head by their employer” after claiming that NCC is using fire and rehire tactics to threaten staff with compulsory dismissal by October if they do not accept changes to their contracts around sick leave.

UCU told FE Week that the group’s Hackney campus has various different aspects to the sick leave policy to the other campuses under the NCC umbrella. Management wants to standardise sick leave policies but to do this they are threatening staff with redundancy if they don’t sign up to the new contracts.

NCC declined to comment.

This is the second college in London to face strikes over fire rehire tactics in recent weeks, following Richmond upon Thames College.

As well as being balloted for strike action, UCU members at NCC are also voting on whether to take action short of a strike by working strictly to contract and not performing additional voluntary duties.

“Fire and rehire is a sickening tactic used by some of the UK’s worst employers and has no place in education,” UCU regional official Adam Lincoln said.

“We call on New City College management to rethink its approach, lift the threat of compulsory dismissals and treat staff with the respect they deserve. Staff have made it clear that they will not have a gun put to their head by their employer.”

“Our members are united behind our pay and conditions claim and will move forward by balloting for strike action and action short of a strike,” he added. 

UCU members at NCC are also being balloted for industrial action from today over “failures” to agree pay rises, level up holiday leave and agree action to reduce workload.

This ballot will run from June 17 until July 15. UCU said it could pave the wave for strike action at campuses across East London.

The union is calling on the college to implement a pay rise of 10 per cent across all campuses, as well as London weighting at its Epping Forest campus where staff are paid less than at the other campus sites.  

UCU also wants the college to agree measures to reduce workload, level up holidays and summer leave periods by five days and reach an agreement in relation to the Hackney College sickness absence policy.

Lincoln said that strike action is a last resort for UCU members but that they would not “stand by and see their pay held down while workload continues to increase”. 

“New City College must ensure a fair pay rise for staff, and commit to genuine measures to tackle unmanageable workload,” Lincoln added.

He called on the group to ensure a fair pay rise for staff, and commit to “genuine measures” to tackle staff workload.

Strike ballots at 33 other colleges also opened this week.

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