Industrial action

UCU claims victory over staff pay at 5 London colleges

They include salary increases of up to 5%, increased annual leave and workload 'protection'

They include salary increases of up to 5%, increased annual leave and workload 'protection'

Staff at five London colleges have landed improved pay offers following strikes.

They include salary increases of up to 5 per cent, increased annual leave and workload “protection”.

University and College Union general secretary Jo Grady claimed this as a “fantastic win” for their members and urged employers who are “refusing to negotiate on pay” to follow suit or face further industrial action.

Staff at Croydon College took to the picket line for seven days this term but have now voted to accept an offer.

The deal includes a backdated 2 per cent pay increase for all staff, 5 per cent for lower-paid members in learning support roles and a minimum salary for qualified teachers of “around £30,000”.

There are “additional commitments around workload protection, a four-week summer leave period and simplified pay progression”, a UCU spokesperson said.

South Thames Colleges Group, which includes South Thames, Merton, Kingston and Carshalton colleges, has offered a 2 per cent consolidated pay award for all staff. This increases to 2.25 per cent for staff who earn less than £23,000.

The offer also includes a “commitment to review and level up terms and conditions across the group including lecturers’ contact hours and holiday arrangements, as well as a new pay and grading structure”.

UCU members in the South Thames Colleges Group are voting on whether to accept the offer in a ballot that closes on Monday. Staff had previously taken one day of strike action.  

Staff at fifteen colleges had voted to take strike action over pay demands in July this year. The latest offers mean ten of the colleges have now received improved pay offers.

The UCU has been demanding a pay increase of greater than 5 per cent to “close the school-college pay gap” which currently stands at £9,000, and after more than a decade of below inflation FE pay increases.

The union said its dispute with Capital City College Group remains unresolved. The group has seen ten days of strike action this year.

Jo Grady

Roy O’Shaughnessy, chief executive of Capital City College Group, previously said he was “very disappointed” that the strike has continued because his lecturing staff “are already paid more than other further education lecturers in London”.

He added that the sector’s “ongoing lack of funding is precisely the reason why we cannot afford to pay the 7 per cent increase in pay that the union is demanding”.

Grady said today: “This is a fantastic win for all our members at Croydon, Carshalton, Kingston, Merton, and South Thames colleges. By taking industrial action they have won long overdue improvements to their pay and terms and conditions, which will particularly benefit lower paid staff. 

“Employers that are refusing to negotiate on pay, such as Capital City College Group, need to follow the example of Croydon College and South Thames Colleges Group and agree to improvements in staff wages, otherwise they risk further disruption.”

Croydon College and South Thames Colleges Group were approached for comment.

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