Unions demand 10% FE staff pay rise in 2024/25

Negotiations for pay deal begin in May

Unions have called for a 10 per cent pay rise for FE staff next year, or a £3,000 salary increase, to keep up with the pace of inflation.

The demand comes from the five trade unions representing FE workers, who submitted the 2024/25 pay claim yesterday.

It calls on college bosses to address the 40 per cent real terms pay decline for FE staff since 2009/10 and the “steep” rises in the cost of living.

The demand is above the 3.4 per cent consumer price index and 4.5 per cent retail price index inflation rate in the year to February 2024.

It is also above the 6.5 per cent AoC pay recommendation to colleges last year.

The pay demand claimed that colleges can pay for this using the £470 million 16 to 19 funding awarded for 2022/23 and 2024/25.

Unions have also called for a £30,000 minimum starting salary for FE lecturers, matching schools.

“FE needs sustained investment to tackle the recruitment and retention challenges. The starting salary for a teacher in FE 2023/24 on the AoC pay scale is £27,789. Following the implementation of the school teacher’s pay review body this year, the starting salary for a new school teacher in England is £30,000.”

Unions also maintained some demands from last year such as colleges having class size recommendations, a “national policy on the delivery of guided learning hours” and to have a binding national pay agreement.

New claims include a demand for staff to have two mental health days per year and a commitment to close gender, ethnic and disability pay gaps.

“Despite women being the majority of staff, there is a substantial gender imbalance across the lecturers’ pay scale. Women are overrepresented at all four points in the lower half of the pay scale and underrepresented at all of four points at the top of the scale,” the unions stated.

“Our demand is that joint work takes place to analyse the current FE gender pay gap and that this work should also include ethnic and disability data.”

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said college funding rates have not kept up with inflation and encouraged unions to “focus their energies” on demanding the government raise the funding rates.

He said: “We thank the unions for their pay claim and look forward to meeting with them in May to discuss it. AoC and its members share the same aim as the unions, to improve college pay. That’s why we work so hard to persuade the government to invest more and to increase the funding rates per student. 

“Unfortunately, college funding rates for next academic year have, once again, not kept up with the rate of inflation. Our concern is that the already unacceptable pay gaps between college lecturers and school teachers and with industry will widen further unless the government invests more to raise funding rates for colleges. 

“We will do everything we can to secure that extra investment and would encourage the unions to focus their energies on that as well.”

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