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FE pay in England

In England the vast majority of colleges are members of the Association of Colleges (AoC), an employers' organisation which negotiates with UCU and other recognised trade unions (UNISON, ATL, ACM, T&G and GMB) in the National Joint Forum (NJF) to produce recommendations on pay and conditions for individual colleges to adopt.

Ballot called off, special FE conference decides

The current ballot for action over FE in England, due to close on 19 December, has been called off after delegates at a specially convened sector conference decided to focus on the next pay round. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt sent the following message to affected members on 15 December:

At a special further education sector conference held on Saturday 13 December in Manchester, delegates discussed developments in the dispute over the 2014-15 pay offer and decided that 'for tactical reasons' we should not call industrial action on the 2014-15 claim but should instead focus on implementing an effective strategy for the 2015-16 bargaining round (due to start in February).

Delegates noted that a previous attempt to call strike action over the pay offer had been stopped by legal action in the High Court and delegates rejected motions which supported continuing with the further education committee's (FEC) plan for a programme of escalating strike action on the 2014/15 claim.

Conference agreed that UCU must retain industrial action as part of its armoury to fight for better pay and improved terms and conditions for its members but the majority of those present questioned whether the current approach and ballot made tactical sense. Delegates voted for a new approach to support meaningful national bargaining in England. The outline of a targeted and strategic method had been presented to the FEC and to branch officers at regional briefings held around the country in the last month. This approach includes submission of a joint trades union national cost of living claim together with a claim that addresses workload matters. This claim will be submitted to the Association of Colleges (AoC) by the end of February 2015.

At the same time a template of the national claim will be made available to branches via their regional office for parallel local submission, with branches able to involve their members in the selection of local issues which are important to them which can be the subject of additional points to a local claim. As examples, a branch may choose to include issues such as lesson observations, zero-hours contracts or tackling the misuse of associate lecturers.

To be clear - there will still be a national claim presented to the AoC with the other unions and national campaigning on pay will continue but there will also be a nationally co-ordinated approach to parallel local negotiations with an acceptance that these could provide a different way of providing members with overall financial benefit and/or an improvement on other conditions of employment.

Further information will be sent to branches in early 2015.

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