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Strike ballot opens at Kirklees College over low pay

13 March 2023

Staff at Kirklees College in Huddersfield and Dewsbury are being balloted on whether to take strike action in a dispute over low pay, UCU announced today.

UCU's claim was for 10% and it is demanding a fair pay award to help staff meet the cost-of-living crisis, as well as a commitment to address unacceptable workloads and advance professional respect. There have been no significant pay rises at Kirklees College since 2009 and the current derisory consolidated pay offer of 1% for this year amounts to a real-terms pay cut of 12.4%, with inflation currently running at 13.4% 

A UCU report shows the vast majority of college staff in England 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.  

Some staff at the college have reported that they can no longer afford to travel to work because of the soaring costs of fuel, that they are making difficult choices regarding 'heating or eating', along with harrowing stories of members skipping meals or visiting food banks to help make ends meet. 

UCU regional support official Max Beckmann said: 'Inflation is at unprecedently high levels so it is scandalous that bosses think they can get away with imposing a derisory 1% consolidated pay offer, in a year where RPI hit 14.2%. This is amounts to a significant real-terms pay cut after years of pay erosion. 

Staff have gone above and beyond, throughout the public health crisis, often at great risk, to deliver education to Kirklees College's learners and are now faced with problems affording travel to work or even skipping meals. Contrast this with the total remuneration paid to the Principal which last year was six times the median of all staff.' 

'The college has a window of opportunity during this ballot period to offer a proper pay rise and stop pushing staff into poverty, otherwise they will vote for strike action in overwhelming numbers.'  

Last updated: 5 May 2023