National college strike ballot opens

Two in three staff warn they will quit without big pay rise

Two in three staff warn they will quit without big pay rise

Over two-thirds of college teachers could quit the sector over the next year if their pay does not improve, a survey has suggested as a nationwide college strike ballot opens.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will today begin to vote on whether to take industrial action across 89 colleges. The ballot will close on October 10.

The UCU, along with four other education unions, earlier this year asked for a pay increase of over 15 per cent due to inflation, a national workload agreement and binding national pay negotiations.

A survey of over 2,000 college workers, published today, revealed that almost all (96 per cent) said their income either does not cover their costs of living or only just about covers their cost of living.

Almost four in five respondents (79 per cent) said their financial situation is having an impact on their mental health, while more than two thirds (69 per cent) said they could leave the sector if pay does not improve.

Last year, the Association of Colleges recommended that colleges give staff a 2.5 per cent pay increase despite union demands for a 10 per cent uplift. The AoC has so far refused to make a pay offer recommendation for 2023/24.

In July the government announced that it will pump nearly an additional £500 million into colleges over the next two years to help fund pay rises. But the new funding will be added through the 16 to 19 funding formula, meaning colleges with larger 19+ student populations won’t get as much.

Allocations to reveal exactly how much extra funding colleges will each receive are yet to be published.

AoC chief executive David Hughes said it was “disappointing” to see UCU going ahead with ballots on pay “shortly before our mutually-agreed formal, meeting date to negotiate on the annual pay award”.

“We delayed making a recommendation earlier this year because we did not want to let government off the hook on funding. That clearly worked, with extra investment announced in July by the education secretary,” he added.

“As we clearly explained to UCU and the other unions, we cannot make a pay recommendation until colleges are clear about how much extra funding they will receive. Government is aiming to provide that clarity for colleges in the next couple of weeks.”

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said today’s survey findings “lay bare why our members will be voting in huge numbers to take strike action”.

She added: “College staff are the beating heart of our communities and transform the life chances of hundreds of thousands of students every year. But they are struggling to survive and pay is so low it is harming their mental health.”

The colleges being balloted are: 

1.           Abingdon and Witney College   

2.           Activate Learning   

3.           Askham Bryan College   

4.           Bath College   

5.           Bishop Auckland College   

6.           Blackburn College   

7.           Blackpool & The Fylde College   

8.           Bolton College   

9.           Bournemouth & Poole College   

10.         Bridgwater and Taunton College    

11.         Brockenhurst College   

12.         Brooklands College   

13.         Burnley College   

14.         Burton and South Derbyshire College   

15.         Bury College   

16.         Calderdale College   

17.         Cambridge Regional College (Camre)   

18.         Capital City College Group   

19.         Chelmsford College   

20.         Cheshire College South & West    

21.         Chesterfield College   

22.         Chichester College Group   

23.         City College Plymouth   

24.         City of Bristol College   

25.         City of Liverpool College    

26.         City of Wolverhampton College   

27.         Colchester Institute   

28.         College of West Anglia   

29.         Craven College   

30.         Croydon College   

31.         Darlington College   

32.         Derby College   

33.         DN Colleges Group    

34.         Dudley College   

35.         Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College   

36.         East Coast College    

37.         East Durham College   

38.         East Sussex College Group   

39.         Exeter College   

40.         Farnborough College of Technology   

41.         Furness College   

42.         Gloucestershire College   

43.         Heart of Worcestershire College   

44.         Heart of Yorkshire Education Group   

45.         Hugh Baird College   

46.         Isle of Wight College   

47.         Lambeth College   

48.         Leeds College of Building   

49.         Leicester College   

50.         Loughborough College   

51.         Middlesbrough College   

52.         MidKent College   

53.         Milton Keynes College Group   

54.         Myerscough College   

55.         Nelson & Colne College Group   

56.         New City College   

57.         New College Durham   

58.         New College Swindon   

59.         Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group   

60.         North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College   

61.         Northampton College   

62.         Nottingham College    

63.         Oaklands College   

64.         Orbital South Colleges   

65.         Petroc    

66.         Plumpton College   

67.         Runshaw College   

68.         SK College Group   

69.         South & City College Birmingham and Bournville College of FE   

70.         South Devon College   

71.         South Essex College   

72.         South Gloucestershire and Stroud College   

73.         South Thames College Group   

74.         Sparsholt College   

75.         Stoke-on-Trent College   

76.         Strode College   

77.         Suffolk New College    

78.         Tameside College   

79.         TEC Partnership    

80.         Truro & Penwith College    

81.         Walsall college  

82.         Warrington & Vale Royal College   

83.         Weston College   

84.         Weymouth College    

85.         Wigan & Leigh College   

86.         Wiltshire College   

87.         Windsor Forest Colleges Group   

88.         Wirral Metropolitan College   

89.         Yeovil College

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  1. The use of Zero hours contracts seems to be getting overlooked by all sides, especially regular annual repeated contracts.

    Aside from the instability, there is a very complex relationship with pension contributions & days worked and it doesn’t favour the worker!

    The uberisation of the education workforce.