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Raise pay and prevent strike action during GCSEs, North West college bosses told

4 May 2022

UCU told the bosses of six colleges in the North West to urgently raise staff pay if they want to avoid strike action set to take place on Wednesday 18 May, the day many GCSE students are due to take a crucial English exam.

The six colleges facing a day of strike action on Wednesday 18 May are:

  • Burnley College  
  • Bury College  
  • City of Liverpool College
  • Hopwood Hall  
  • Nelson & Colne College Group
  • Oldham College

UCU expects around 900 staff at the colleges to down tools, and over 50,000 students could be impacted. Staff have timed their strike to take place the same day that many students are due to sit GCSE English language. If the strike goes ahead exams will be disrupted.

From Thursday 19 May staff will also be taking action short of strike, which includes working to contract, not covering for absent colleagues or vacant posts, and not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action.

UCU is demanding the colleges increase pay by at least 8.5% to meet the cost of living crisis. Since 2009 pay in further education has fallen behind inflation by 35% and the pay gap between school and college teachers stands at around £9k. Westminster recently announced the biggest increase in further education funding in more than a decade.

In 2021, the Westminster government announced an 8.4% increase in funding targeted at those in England aged 16-17 years old, the biggest rise in funding for further education in more than decade and coming after £240m in additional funding announced in 2018. 

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: 'We urge employers to do the right thing and give staff a pay rise so strike action can be avoided. Our members take huge pride in educating and supporting students, and striking during exams is a last resort, but staff are rightly outraged that their bosses have repeatedly held down pay. Now as inflation and energy costs soar, bosses urgently need to raise pay so we can avoid disruption to crucial GCSE English exams.'

Last updated: 5 May 2022