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FE England: 2014-15 pay round

Information on the 2014-15 pay round for English colleges.

Conference ends 2014-15 dispute

At a special further education sector conference held on 13 December, delegates discussed developments in the dispute over the 2014-15 pay offer and decided that 'for tactical reasons' we should not call industrial action on the 2014-15 claim but should instead focus on implementing an effective strategy for the 2015-16 bargaining round (due to start in February).

Delegates noted that a previous attempt to call strike action over the pay offer had been stopped by legal action in the High Court and delegates rejected motions which supported continuing with the further education committee's (FEC) plan for a programme of escalating strike action on the 2014/15 claim.

Conference agreed that UCU must retain industrial action as part of its armoury to fight for better pay and improved terms and conditions for its members but the majority of those present questioned whether the current approach and ballot made tactical sense. Delegates voted for a new approach to support meaningful national bargaining in England. The outline of a targeted and strategic method had been presented to the FEC and to branch officers at regional briefings held around the country in the last month. This approach includes submission of a joint trades union national cost of living claim together with a claim that addresses workload matters. This claim will be submitted to the Association of Colleges (AoC) by the end of February 2015.

At the same time a template of the national claim will be made available to branches via their regional office for parallel local submission, with branches able to involve their members in the selection of local issues which are important to them which can be the subject of additional points to a local claim. As examples, a branch may choose to include issues such as lesson observations, zero-hours contracts or tackling the misuse of associate lecturers.

To be clear - there will still be a national claim presented to the AoC with the other unions and national campaigning on pay will continue but there will also be a nationally co-ordinated approach to parallel local negotiations with an acceptance that these could provide a different way of providing members with overall financial benefit and/or an improvement on other conditions of employment.


Timeline

No offer made at opening pay talks

The 2014-15 pay talks opened on 8 April 2014 at a meeting of the National Joint Forum (NJF) where the trade union side presented their claim [40kb]  of:

  • 3% or £1040 whichever is the greater
  • a recommendation to colleges to become Living Wage employers
  • pay protection for a minimum of three years in line with school teachers (in restructures and re-grading etc).

Disappointingly, the Association of Colleges (AoC) insisted they were unable to make an offer on the day. However, they gave a commitment that they would bring an offer that was 'without strings attached' to the next meeting of the NJF on 16 May. The AoC also said they were sympathetic to the call for a Living Wage but needed to consult further with their members.

Read more in FE News 49 [233kb].

Lobby of employers at 16 May pay meeting

Members joined a national lobby of the employers' body, the Association of Colleges (AoC) as they met the unions for pay talks on 16 May 2014.

UCU rejects 0.7% pay offer

UCU rejected a 0.7% pay offer and told England's college bosses to come back to the negotiating table with an offer that addresses members' falling pay over recent years.

Unions met with the colleges' representative, the Association of Colleges (AoC), to try and thrash out a deal. Further education staff have seen their pay fall by 16% in real terms since 2009 and must now also meet higher monthly pension contributions.

Read the full story here

Defend pay, defend education. UCU recommends REJECT the 1% pay offer and campaign for more

At the third and final meeting of the National Joint Forum for the 2014/15 pay talks, the Association of Colleges made a revised full and final offer to the Joint FE Trade Unions on 18 June. A previous offer of 0.7% was rejected by all the unions at a meeting in May 2014.

The final offer:

  • deletion of the bottom scale point 4
  • 2% increase in scale point 5 to bring it up to the living wage £7.65
  • 1% increase on all points above point 5.

Our claim was for a £1048 flat rate increase or 3% for our members, whichever is the higher. In response to the joint trade union's claim for safeguarding (protection of wages for staff negatively affected by a change of role through restructuring) for three years, the AoC considered this too restrictive for colleges. It was suggested that NJF officers meet to scope a joint working group on this.

Member consultation over pay offer

Following the third and final meeting with the employers, FEC met on 27 June 2014 to consider the offer and made the following decisions on pay:

  • to consult all UCU FE England members over the AoC's full and final offer
  • RECOMMENDS MEMBERS to REJECT the offer and provide this briefing note including a full explanation of the consequences of voting to accept or reject
  • call branch meetings on the pay offer accompanying the member consultation period
  • set out a credible strategy for further national strike action commencing in autumn
  • if possible to coordinate this action alongside other unions like the NUT, Unison and others
  • to prioritise the TUC demonstration on 'Britain needs a pay rise' on 18 October, and to actively encourage all members to attend.

IF A MAJORITY OF MEMBERS VOTE TO REJECT:

  • UCU will reject the AoC's final offer of 1% and remain in dispute with English colleges on pay
  • you will be called upon to take part in an escalating programme of strikes at a national level co-ordinated with other public sector and targeted strike action within a national framework

IF MEMBERS VOTE TO ACCEPT:

  • UCU will accept the AoC's final offer of 1% and the union will no longer be in dispute with English colleges on pay.

Strike called after members reject offer

UCU's Further Education Committee met on Friday 12 September 2014 to consider the results of the FE England member e-consultation on the 2014/15 final pay offer, in which 85% of members who participated voted to reject the 1% offer. FEC noted that the 2013/14 claim continued to be unresolved and therefore supported further strike action to secure an improved offer in continuance of our ongoing 2013/14 dispute.

FEC members received reports from UCU officials which included industrial and political advice on issues surrounding the options for taking industrial action and the legality of action. Following significant discussion regarding the level of turnout in the member consultation and of all available options, FEC voted in favour of calling on FE members in England to take strike action on 14 October 2014 in further pursuit of UCU's 2013/14 pay claim.