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Strike wave over low pay hits more North West colleges

3 October 2022

Staff at the City of Liverpool, Burnley and Oldham colleges begin three consecutive days of strike action tomorrow in a dispute over low pay, confirmed UCU.

The full list of strike dates for the three colleges are:

  • Tuesday 4 October
  • Wednesday 5 October
  • Thursday 6 October.

Staff at the colleges will be on picket lines every morning of strike action. Burnley staff will also picket their college from 4pm tomorrow to coincide with the college's open day. UCU president Janet Farrar will join the City of Liverpool College picket tomorrow morning.

Staff at Blackburn and West Lancashire colleges are also set to strike over low pay from Thursday alongside 24 other colleges across England. The full strike dates for these colleges are:

  • Thursday 6 and Friday 7 October (2 days)
  • Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 October (2 days)
  • Tuesday 18 Wednesday, 19 and Thursday 20 October (3 days).

Next Tuesday 11 October 2022 staff at The Manchester College will also take three consecutive days of strike action. Staff at Manchester, Oldham and Burnley colleges have already taken two days of strike action this term over low pay, whilst staff at Blackburn and West Lancashire colleges were on strike for three days last week.

The strikes amount to the biggest wave of industrial action ever to hit English colleges with around 4,000 staff on strike and tens of thousands of students being impacted. It comes during the worst cost of living crisis in living memory and after more than a decade of low pay has seen further education staff salaries fall 35% behind inflation since 2009. RPI is currently 12.3%, UCU is demanding pay rises that reflect the increases in the cost of living.

The Department for Education has announced £1.6bn in extra funding for further education and UCU estimates that colleges already have an additional £400m that is available to spend on staff compared with 2019-20.

This summer UCU produced a report showing that the vast majority of college staff are financially insecure, impacting the mental health of more than eight in 10 with many being forced to skip meals and restrict hot water use to save money.  Seven in 10 said they will leave the sector unless pay and working conditions improve.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: 'Further education staff are taking unprecedented levels of strike action because they have no other choice. Twelve years of real-term wage cuts have left them ill-prepared for the cost of living crisis and they urgently need a pay rise.

'Where employers make serious offers that meaningfully raise pay we will put them to our members. The money is there to make fair pay offers and employers need to do so, otherwise they will see continued disruption.'

Last updated: 5 October 2022