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Strike warning over low pay in North West colleges

25 February 2022

UCU today warned the leaders of colleges in north west England that strike action is on the cards unless staff pay demands are met.

Over 1,000 UCU members at Hopwood Hall, Bury, Burnley, Oldham, The Manchester, and City of Liverpool colleges were asked in a consultative ballot whether they were willing to take strike action in support of an 'inflation plus' pay claim1. They overwhelmingly turned out to vote yes. A consultative ballot is the first step on the path to industrial action. UCU will move to a statutory industrial action ballot, and potential strike action, unless its demands are met. If strikes were to take place over 40k students could be impacted.

UCU is demanding that the colleges increase pay by at least the level of inflation for 2021/22. This would mean pay increases of at least 8.5%. Since 2009 pay in further education has fallen by 35% in real terms and the gap between school and college teachers stands at around £9k. The UK government has now announced an 8.4% increase in funding targeted at 16-19 year olds. This is the biggest rise in funding for further education in more than decade and comes after £240m was announced in 2018.

The union said that the six colleges now need to do the right thing and invest in their employees so that staff can meet the steep rise in the cost of living. It said that if management refuse to do the honourable thing and pay staff more, then the union would be forced to move to industrial ballots for strike action.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: 'College staff work incredibly hard to support students but have endured more than a decade of real term pay cuts. Due to soaring inflation they now face a cost of living crisis. We believe these colleges can afford to pay staff more. Management need to do the right thing and negotiate with us and give staff a decent pay rise or they risk industrial ballots and potential strike action.'


[1] Consultative ballot results

College

Turnout

Yes Vote to Strike Action

Hopwood Hall College

64%

92%

Bury College

70%

71%

Burnley College

60%

84%

Oldham College

68%

75%

The Manchester College

65%

79%

City of Liverpool College

71%

70%

Last updated: 28 February 2022