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Strike ballot over contract changes and working conditions at United Colleges Group

16 March 2021

UCU members working at London based United Colleges Group are today being balloted for potential strike action over changes to agreed contracts imposed by management that will see workloads increase.

At the start of the 2020 autumn term, college management unilaterally imposed changes to existing contractual terms and conditions by removing timetabled non-teaching hours for teaching staff, without prior discussion or agreement with UCU or staff. These terms and conditions are part of the contract the college agreed with UCU following the merger of the College of North West London and City of Westminster College in 2017. UCU fears that the employer is not negotiating in good faith and intends to impose further changes to contracts and working practices. 

The changes have seen an extra hour per week of teaching added to timetables and a significant increase in workload for staff.  The changes have also meant that hourly paid teaching staff have lost hours and pay as a result, due to the addition of those teaching hours to the timetable for full-time and fractional lecturers. 

When challenged by UCU the college claimed that staff were no longer working under the terms of the collectively agreed harmonised contract, which was agreed following the merger. This will mean other cuts to conditions such as a reduction of two days' holidays at the former City of Westminster College.  

The union said that management is attempting to re-write history by tearing up collective agreements made with UCU, and is concerned that this top-down managerialism may only be the tip of the iceberg. 

UCU regional official Adam Lincoln said: 'Industrial action is always a last resort but with the employer imposing detrimental changes to contracts and increasing the workload of already over stretched staff we have been left with little choice.  College management is attempting to re-write history by tearing up collective agreements made with UCU and we have grave concerns that this top-down managerialism may only be the tip of the iceberg.' 

The ballot opens today and will run until 9 April 2021. 

Last updated: 16 March 2021