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National Plus in FE - winning better pay and conditions for members

20 May 2016

Why we need a new approach

Every year UCU seeks to negotiate an increase in pay with the Association of Colleges (AoC). At the end of every round of talks, the AoC advises colleges to consider the outcome of the national talks. We do not reach agreement at the national level; it is just a recommendation to your employer. And the problem is that colleges are not implementing AoC's recommendations.

UCU analysis revealed that less than one third of colleges implemented the AoC's pay recommendation from 2014/15. Almost 40% of colleges awarded no increase at all.

This is a major reason why pay has been held down in FE and also why it is diverging across our colleges.

With so few colleges implementing anything that comes out of national talks, it was clear we needed to do something different.

UCU's alternative strategy

UCU's FE sector conference in 2014 supported the development of a new strategy to apply nationally overseen targeted pressure in order to rebuild meaningful collective bargaining.

Branches now have the option to submit a pay claim in line with the national claim but to add to it claims for action on other issues of importance to members. This allows branches to reflect local concerns and circumstances. Such claims can include (but are not limited) to:

  • pay uplifts across the scale
  • action to deal with local grading or blocks on the 8 point scale
  • workload
  • implementation date for pay increases
  • equal pay ( to close the gender pay gap)
  • casualisation
  • any other local issues.

This approach is called 'National Plus'.

Read more about UCU's new strategy in this full branch briefing document (.pdf)

If enough branches elect to be part of this strategy, we can rebuild collective bargaining.

We can move from the defensive to the offensive by starting to put claims on colleges in a nationally co-ordinated way.

If you would like further information on how to engage with this strategy then please contact your regional official or contact Paul Bridge, UCU's national head of further education.

The claims submitted include locally agreed elements such as proposals to control working hours, close the gender pay gap, tackle local pay issues and addressing casualisation.

UCU - winning for members in FE

The 'National Plus' initiative was put into operation in late 2014 and into 2015 and since then has been delivering meaningful results for members.

Last updated: 28 September 2023