College lecturers walk out across England
There was widespread disruption in colleges throughout England today as lecturers went on strike to demand a 6% pay increase to bring their pay up to the level of schoolteachers' pay and keep up with price rises.
Members of UCU refused to work and organised picket lines outside colleges. Several marches are taking place in major cities and there are rallies in towns from Truro to Tyneside.
College lecturers teach over 3 million students in England but they earn on average 6% less than school teachers doing equivalent work. 47% of colleges have still not implemented a new national pay scale agreed more than three years ago.
Hundreds of college departments were closed today and prison education departments were also disrupted.
Early reports include:
- Pickets were out at Leeds Thomas Danby, Park Lane College, Leeds College of Technology and Leeds College of Art and Design, where the strike is very well supported. A joint rally is being held now at Leeds - Victoria Gardens outside the Art Gallery, around 500 people in attendance.
- Pickets out at Bradford College, solid support throughout.
- At Exeter College the college Students Union has joined staff on their picket lines.
- Sunderland College: all five sites have no teaching.
- West Kent College picket line this morning had a great turnout.
- Coventry City College: all members out.
- Over 1,000 UCU members joined a march in London.
- Wormwood Scrubs decided to close the education department.
In London today, a lunchtime rally includes speakers from UCU and from the schoolteachers union, NUT and civil service union PCS, also taking strike action today in support of better pay. The event is supported by the national union of students (NUS).
This week an independent report revealed widespread dissatisfaction among college staff, especially lecturers.
- 51% of college teaching staff say they're likely to leave FE in the next 5 years
- less than a third would recommend their college as a good place to work.
Speaking at the London rally, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: 'College incomes have increased by over 17% in the last 6 years, but colleges are spending less of this on staff.
'However, college principals have given themselves nice pay rises out of this while staff work longer hours and receive less for their effort.
'Everywhere I go, lecturers tell me that the educational world they love is being destroyed – their work micro-managed and their time squeezed until they can't go on.
'They are told they have to deliver world-class skills, become more professional while at the same time, the employers tell us flatly, they won't pay a professional wage.'
Rallies and events took place in: Birmingham and Coventry, Oxford, Brighton, Southampton, Worthing, Maidenhead, Chatham, Reading, and the Isle of Wight, Norwich, Ipswich, Peterborough, Chelmsford, Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds, Kings Lynn, Lowestoft, and Letchworth. Bristol, Dorchester, Exeter, Taunton and Truro. Newcastle Upon Tyne, Manchester, Liverpool, Preston, Bolton. Sheffield, Doncaster, Barnsley Chesterfield, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Chesterfield and Northampton. Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield, Calderdale, and Hull.