Strike action planned for November 10 after union ballots members on AoC pay freeze proposal


The University and College Union (UCU) has announced planned strike action on November 10 after balloting members over an Association of Colleges (AoC) pay freeze recommendation for 2015/16, FE Week can reveal.

The UCU FE committee met on Saturday to discuss the ballot result, which saw 74 per cent of members vote in favour of strike action.

A spokesperson for the union told FE Week this morning that it had decided to launch strike action on Tuesday, November 10.

Michael MacNeil (pictured), UCU head of bargaining, said: “Our members who voted clearly backed strike action and the FE committee confirmed plans for action this term.

“We intend to take strike action on November 10, but urge the employers to come back to the table to resolve this dispute.”

The Association of Colleges declined to comment on the strike plans.

But when asked about the ballot before it closed on Thursday (October 15), AoC director of employment policy and services Marc Whitworth said: “Although not unexpected it is nevertheless disappointing that the UCU will ballot for action … Strikes are very disruptive for colleges and more importantly for students.

“We would encourage UCU to consider how we might better work together to represent our respective members collectively and position the FE sector to remunerate more effectively in the longer term.

“There is a willingness from the employers’ side to work together to protect the prospects of FE, its skilled workforce and the students it serves.”

It comes after trade union Unison announced last week (October 14) that its FE sector members had “overwhelmingly” voted to reject the AoC recommendation, with 95 per cent dismissing the offer.

Unison also confirmed that it has written to the AoC, and colleges it is negotiating for, with the result and a warning that unless the offer was improved the union would be “in dispute” with them.

The union called for an urgent meeting of the union side of the Joint National Forum, as reported in FE Week, with a view to discussing next steps and also a campaign against further funding cuts ‎expected in the Autumn Statement.

Meanwhile, the Association of Teachers & Lecturers (ATL) has also debated the AoC’s proposal for a wage freeze, but said members were reluctant to pursue industrial action.

The ATL submitted a ballot early last month in the form of a survey to its members, and to members of its leadership section, the Association of Managers in Education (AMiE).

Dr Mary Bousted, ATL general secretary, said: “Although members expressed significant unhappiness with the offer, there was little enthusiasm for sustained industrial action at this time.”

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