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FE England: 2013-14 pay round

Information on the 2013-14 pay round for English colleges.

Members working in FE in England have been in dispute over the employers' 0.7% pay offer for 2013-14.

UCU wrote to the employers on 27 November 2013 stating our willingness to enter dispute resolution talks, but when the employers failed to take up this opportunity UCU members took strike action on 3 December 2013.

Following the day of strike action UCU's Further Education Committee (FEC) met to discuss the next steps and review feedback from branches. FEC decided not to pursue further strikes at this stage, but to further consult branches. UCU effectively remains in dispute over the 2013-14 offer.

You can read a fuller report in the February '14 edition of FE News.

See also the latest information on England FE pay negotations.


Previously

2013-14 pay claim

The further education unions submitted their joint 2013-14 pay claim to the Association of Colleges on 30 January 2013.

The claim focused on pay, calling for:

  • a 5% consolidated increase in all salaries and allowances with a £750 underpinning for the lowest pad
  • all colleges to apply to the Living Wage foundation to become fully accredited Living Wage employers.

FE unions joint pay claim 2013-14 [81kb]

Employers' final offer

A third national negotiating meeting took place between the AOC and the six college unions on 25 June 2013 where employers made a final recommended offer of a 0.7% pay increase from August 2013, with a £282 increase for those earning equivalent to £14,052.

Talks had broken down at the previous meeting when the employers withdrew a 0.5% offer in response to the unions refusing to agree to a statement that included the commitment at a local level to 'open and positive discussion regarding approaches to incremental pay, flexibility and working practices'. (See Risk of dispute in colleges after 0.5% pay offer withdrawn.)

Lengthy discussions at officer level followed this meeting which led to a revised statement with more general wording similar to that accompanying previous offers, and importantly, with the explicit reference to incremental pay and working practices removed. The unions therefore agreed to take back the offer below to its relevant committees and membership for consideration.

The offer:

'This recommendation is made on the basis that both sides remain aware that colleges continue to face major challenges arising from the stringent funding circumstances across Further Education and that implementation of the recommended pay award will be based on affordability at each individual college.

There is a joint understanding that a priority for colleges is to maintain employment to sustain and continuously improve services to learners, employers and communities. Therefore both sides recognise there is a need for positive engagement in local discussions regarding the need for all staff to be responsive and proactive in an ever changing environment. This includes open and positive discussions on new approaches to deliver efficiencies and flexibility, where these are proposed.

On the basis of the above, we are recommending:

  • a consolidated salary increase of £282 for staff earning equivalent to spine point 4 of the AoC harmonised pay scale (£14,052); and
  • a consolidated salary increase of 0.7% for all other staff.

Payable from 1 August 2013.

This increases the recommended minimum hourly rate to £7.45 in recognition of the UK Living Wage.

This recommended pay award is made on the condition that the joint trade unions agree to consult meaningfully with their members with a positive recommendation.'

UCU's response

UCU's further education committee (FEC) met on 28 June 2013 to consider the offer. Members of the committee were unanimous in the view that the offer of 0.7% in response to our claim for a 5% increase was unacceptable in the context of inflation running at over 2% and the ever increasing levels of workload faced by members because of the tightening and/or worsening of conditions of service at a local level.

FEC was mindful of the policy passed at annual sector conference in May which stated that in the event of an unsatisfactory offer, a ballot for national strike action should be held as early in October as possible. The committee recommended that members reject the offer and ballot for industrial action. The ballot took place after feedback from branch meetings held across the country called to discuss the offer during which members were recommended to support rejection [144kb] of the offer. The ballot result was as follows:

Are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of strike action?

Number of ballot papers returned: 6,510
Number voting YES: 4,603 (70.9%)
Number voting NO: 1,893 (29.1%)
Number of papers found to be invalid: 14

You can view the full scrutineer's report here [137kb].

* UCU, Unison, GMB, Unite and ATL