Strikes are on the cards at another 33 colleges as a dispute over low pay and “unmanageable” workload rages on.
Industrial ballots were opened by University and College Union branches across England (see full list below) today and will close on July 15.
It comes a month after the Association of Colleges recommended that its members offer staff a 2.25 per cent pay rise in 2022/23.
This was the highest pay recommendation since 2014, but well below the call from unions for a 10 per cent rise.
The UCU said that since 2009 college staff have seen their pay fall behind inflation by more than 35 per cent and three in four from a survey of more than 2,232 college staff say their workload has increased significantly over the past three years.
It is estimated by the joint trade unions that extra FE funding announcements in recent years mean that colleges now have an “additional £400 million that is completely free to spend on staff compared with 2019-20”.
But AoC chief executive David Hughes said that colleges cannot afford anything more than a 2.25 per cent pay rise next year because his members are “reeling from a decade of cuts and are now being hit by soaring inflation which has eaten away at any recent uptick in funding”.
Six colleges in the north west faced disruption during exams last month as staff took to the picket line to strike over pay. But two were called off after last-minute pay offers worth up to 7.5 per cent at Hopwood Hall College and 6 per cent at Bury College were accepted.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Our members must not pay the price of sky-high inflation. We will not accept staff having pay held down whilst the cost of putting petrol in the tank, heating the home and feeding loved ones soars. With three in four staff also facing dangerously high workloads we have no choice but to proceed to a ballot for strike action.”
The 33 colleges being balloted are:
- Abingdon and Witney College
- Bath College
- Blackburn College
- Bournemouth and Poole College
- Bournville College of FE
- Bridgwater and Taunton College
- Carlisle College
- Chichester College Group – Chichester
- Chichester College Group – Crawley
- City College Plymouth
- City of Bristol College
- Croydon College
- Derby College
- East Sussex Cllege Group – Hastings
- East Sussex College Group (SDC)
- Exeter College
- Halesowen College
- Hereward College of FE
- Lambeth College
- Lewisham College – Deptford
- Lewisham College – Lewisham Way
- New College Swindon
- Newcastle College
- Sandwell College of FHE
- South & City College Birmingham
- Southwark College
- Sparsholt College Hampshire (inc Andover College)
- Strode College
- Truro and Penwith College
- West Lancashire College
- Weston College
- Wiltshire College
- Yeovil College