London mega-college staff cut short strike action over workload agreement

Workers meant to strike for eight days end up picketing for three days after talks

Workers meant to strike for eight days end up picketing for three days after talks

Staff at London’s biggest college cut short their strike action this week after college leaders agreed to union demands over workload.

Bosses at Capital City College Group (CCCG) met with University and College Union (UCU) representatives on Wednesday following three days on the picket lines last week protesting pay and rising workload.

Workers had planned to strike every day this week but paused action from Monday ahead of the meeting with the college on Wednesday. Last week, staff went on strike for three days.

The London-based college agreed to the union’s demand of a maximum class size of 22 learners instead of the proposed 25 per class.

A workload committee will also be set up to devise a policy to deal with the increase in teacher workload.

College leaders also agreed to honour the number of teaching weeks to 36 weeks for staff on City and Islington College contracts. 

Workers on the Capital City College Group contract will have to teach for 37 weeks per academic year but according to UCU, these staff members will get time off in lieu, meaning they will not be working over their contractual 850 hours. 

“[This] would’ve been the case as it stood before the dispute,” a UCU London region spokesperson said.

“Management refused to accept that duties like interviews, parents’ evenings, open evenings and taster days should be included as part of their global hours, which they had done so in the past. Therefore, staff would be working over their contractual hours,” they added.

“The agreement reached was that these duties would be included in overall global teaching hours. Time off in lieu (TOIL) will be granted to all staff undertaking these duties.”

A CCCG spokesperson said: “Following a meeting between Capital City College Group and UCU representatives yesterday [January 24], the dispute has now been resolved. 

“The Group is pleased that UCU was willing to pause their planned action on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning to enable a constructive discussion to take place. It is hoped that in the future agreement can be reached without the need for industrial action.”

They added: “Following the meeting this week and to reach a resolution we have agreed to implement the maximum class sizes which had already been agreed in 2022 and to ensure that teacher workloads are monitored on an ongoing basis.”

Continued pay dispute

College staff walked out in November for three days over pay and workload. The dispute continued into the new year when staff walked out for three days last week.

This was disputing the workload issues described above, as well as the college’s offer of a pay award between 4 per cent and 6.5 per cent, beginning from January 1 this year, and a £500 one-off payment on top.

The union said the offer goes against the Association of Colleges’ recommendation last September of a 6.5 per cent pay award from the start of the 2023/24 academic year.

A spokesperson from UCU London region said: “will be setting out soon their campaign for nationally binding agreements on pay and conditions. 

“If managements across the sector refuse to agree to national binding agreements UCU will continue to defend its members’ pay and conditions at a local level.

“UCU at CCCG will also continue to oppose senior management intransigents who seem to prefer conflict rather than finding resolution of real concerns in the way the group is managed.”

A CCCG spokesperson added: “The 2023/24 pay award for all CCCG staff ranged from 4 per cent to 9 per cent, with part of the award unconsolidated and the larger part consolidated. This action is primarily linked to workload, namely class sizes and the number of teaching weeks. We hope UCU will work more constructively with us to resolve these matters.”

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