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Strikes set to go ahead next month at English college employers

26 October 2023

Three consecutive days of strike action are set to start on Tuesday 14 November at college employers across England unless employers raise pay, announced UCU today.

The full strike days are:

  • Tuesday 14 November
  • Wednesday 15 November
  • Thursday 16 November

The strike is over pay and working conditions and a commitment to binding national pay negotiations. It comes after an overwhelming 90% of voting members backed the action. UCU is demanding a pay offer in excess of RPI inflation, a national workload agreement and a new negotiating settlement for FE.

UCU said it wants employers to negotiate before staff are forced to strike, and that it has already settled disputes at a significant number of colleges, avoiding strike action, after receiving pay offers of up to 8.5%.

Employer representative, the Association of Colleges (AoC), has recommended a pay uplift of 6.5% but colleges do not have to follow it, and many have failed to do so in previous pay rounds.

A UCU survey of college staff shows that almost all are struggling financially (96%) because of low wages with four in five survey respondents saying their financial situation is impacting their mental health (79%). It shows many staff have to use foodbanks, as well as ration hot water and heating because their pay is so low.

Government increases to English college funding mean the sector will get at least £700m more in 2023/24 than it did three years ago (2019/20). Recent financial analysis by UCU shows that 26 principals received pay rises of over 10% in 2021/22. One principal's total package rose to an astounding £360k. The average increase was 4%, four times higher than the 1% the AoC recommended for staff in that year.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: 'Our members refuse to allow pay to be held down to such an extent that their colleagues are forced to use food banks. The money has now arrived to pay staff fairly and college bosses must do so.

'We have shown that where employers negotiate serious offers that our members accept, we will call off action. Employers must now look to the colleges where we have settled their disputes and make staff a meaningful offer. Any that refuse will be hit with strike action.'

Click on this page to see the latest updates on college employers facing strike action, as well as college employers that have negotiated a deal/settlement.

Last updated: 14 November 2023