In the news: 2-6 May 2016

HE members back strike action in pay dispute

UCU members in higher education have voted in favour of strike action this week following an 'insulting' 1.1% pay offer from the employers, UCEA. As reported in Times Higher Education and the Herald, two-thirds of members backed strike action and three-quarters supported action short of a strike. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said that 'strike action is always a last resort for educators but [...] staff want to see a sensible offer which begins to address the real-terms pay cut they have endured since 2009.'

Hull College strike sees MP scolded for supporting workers

Hundreds of staff at Hull College walked out on Tuesday as part of an ongoing row over pay and conditions, with a lively picket featuring speakers including local MP Karl Turner. UCU regional official Julie Kelley told the Hull Daily Mail that staff are demanding their promised pay rise because 'other colleges have all had a pay rise and they are all in the same economic climate. Staff are very angry and they want to see some movement, and so far there's been nothing really by management.'

Events took a bizarre turn on Wednesday when Mr Turner received a letter from the college chief executive saying that the MP's support for the striking workers was 'inappropriate and disrespectful' to the college. The Independent, FE week and Yorkshire Post all reported that Mr Turner hit back with an open letter accusing the college leader of using 'bullying tactics', and has asked the college's board of governors to investigate the chief executive's conduct.

Staff should be 'priority for investment' at colleges

A new survey by the Times Educational Supplement highlighted ongoing funding uncertainty at many FE colleges, and suggested that many principals anticipate a need for redundancies in the coming year. Speaking in response to the survey findings, UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said the prospect of job losses was a major concern, but was clear that 'hard-working staff are the cornerstone of every successful college and should be the priority for investment.'

UCU vows to defend jobs at Hadlow College Group as campus closure announced

The Hadlow College Group has announced that its Tunbridge Wells campus will be closed and courses relocated to West Kent College in Tonbridge, raising fears of possible redundancies. UCU regional official Mike Moran told local press that 'UCU is concerned about the proposed site closure, which would have a major impact on both staff and the local community. We will be meeting urgently with the college to discuss the situation and will work to defend members' jobs.'

Unions condemn Hastings campus closure at University of Brighton

The University of Brighton's decision to close its Hastings campus was heavily criticised at a public meeting on Wednesday. The Hastings Observer reported that UCU branch chair Mark Abel raised concerns about the university's approach, saying the university should not be treated like a business but as something belonging 'to the people who work there and the community that surrounds it.'
 

Last updated: 13 May 2016