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Nicholas Mark Smith (North Kent College)

25 January 2024

Election address

I have worked in colleges across the UK as a Plumbing lecturer since 2004 and run a Plumbing company on the side to make ends meet. Throughout the years in the FE education sector, I have found that we have been let down by the government and employers expecting additional workload at no extra cost, placing strain on our mental health and wellbeing.

FE colleagues are forced to take on second jobs or use food banks: we must put an end to this. We have the responsibility of educating the next generation and must be treated with the respect that we deserve; not pushed to one side, not treated with the snobbery the government inflicts and not overworked and underpaid.   

In FE we have been left behind, put aside, and forgotten about by the government.

In 2022/23, the median salary for a college lecturer fell by 19%. which is now 21% less than school teachers.

The Association of Colleges makes meaningless pay recommendations which in most cases are ignored by college employers. We need a national binding pay negotiation system that provides meaningful inflation-busting pay offers, that cannot be ignored by the employers.

If elected, I will campaign to stop the government marginalisation of our FE sector and fight for a national bargaining system that recognises the work we do and makes our sector more desirable to work in.

We need to do better together, unified as one.

In 2022/23 multiple colleges within the FE sector have had to strike over pay and workload. However, some of our colleagues are still missing out on a meaningful pay offer due to not being fully supported.

As the UCU branch secretary of North Kent College (NKC), we have managed an 8% pay raise for 2023/24. In addition, NKC has had the fastest growing branch in the union at the end of the last academic year and I have been proud to lead that upsurge.

If elected, through organisation I will ensure that support structures are put in place to see other FE branches that require it to grow, unify as one and gain collective power. To do this I will push for mechanisms to be in place so that any branch wanting support to grow will have access options that meet their needs.

We need to stand together. I would fight for every member who is undervalued, underpaid, and overworked.

We are working together as one and I fully support Jo Grady for re-election as General Secretary and David Hunter for Vice-President. If elected, I will work with them for  a stronger and forward-looking union. To see who else is committed to this, visit

Standing together, stronger, unified as one.

Last updated: 25 January 2024