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UCU Official Dispute

Strike ballot opens at five North East colleges over low pay

10 July 2023

A strike ballot will open on Monday 17 July at five colleges across the North East of England over low pay.

The ballot will run until Friday 29 September. 

The colleges being balloted are: 

  • Bede Sixth Form College 
  • NETA Training Group  
  • Stockton Riverside College 
  • The Skills Academy
  • Redcar and Cleveland College.

They are all part of employer group Education Training Collective (ETC) and are based in Stockton on Tees, Redcar and Cleveland. 

The dispute is over the employer's 22/23 pay award. UCU members overwhelmingly rejected the original 3% offer. The college then offered to add an additional 1% from May and to remove the bottom point of the lecturer pay spine, which UCU members again voted to reject. 

ETC holds £19m in unrestricted reserves and has over £4m cash in the bank. Last year its principal got a total pay-out worth over £300k, but it is trying to recruit lecturers for less than £24k.  

UCU regional support official Chris Robinson said: 'Staff are balloting for strike action because they refuse to accept being pushed into poverty. In a cost of living crisis, it is simply unacceptable that the employer is trying to deny highly skilled staff a decent pay award.  

'Whilst the principal takes home a six-figure salary, our members are forced to survive on as little as £24k. It cannot continue. The college has over £4m sitting in the bank, it must use that money to protect staff and ensure students are taught by lecturers on a decent wage. If it refuses our members will vote to strike.' 

Last updated: 10 July 2023