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FE pay in Wales

15 January 2019

UCU negotiates on FE pay and conditions in Wales alongside the other relevant trade unions with the Welsh FE employers' association ColegauCymru.

Please see FE agreements in Wales for all national agreements, including those relating to pay matters.

Pay round 2022-23

UPDATE: 22 June 2023

We asked members in a consultative ballot if they agreed with the decision of FESC to note the pay offer and 95.2% of members that voted agreed with that decision. 

At the WNCFE meeting on 17 May 2023 the Joint Trade Unions confirmed that the Joint Trade Unions wished to note the offer. 

ColegauCymru confirmed that colleges will now proceed to implement the additional pay increase subject to board of governor approval in July 2023. 

Claim 2022-23

The joint trade unions tabled a pay claim for 2022-23 on 13 May 2022 which only addresses the pay uplift on all the scales this year. The text of the claim reads:

Given the significant work being undertaken across the sector in social partnership with the JTUs (Joint Trade Unions), Welsh Government and the Principals' group, this year's pay claim will only address the uplift in pay on the national and in the case of support staff, local pay scales. This is on the understanding that the Principals' Group will keep their various commitments over the years to discuss and implement a national pay scale for support staff, to bring them in line with other staff groups who work in Further Education.

The rate of inflation is growing at a level we have not seen for over forty years. The latest CPI rate from the Office for National Statistics is recorded at 7% for the month of March 2022. Wage increases have not kept pace with inflation and now we face significant increases in housing costs, fuel, and heating costs, which impact on the health and well-being of staff who work in the FE sector. These issues must be taken into consideration when assessing and responding to this year's pay claim.

The claim for a pay uplift across all scales this year is for an increase of at least 12%.

On 16 September 2022 we received a letter from Guy Lacey, chair of ColegauCymru saying 'I am seeking a meeting with the Minister for Education and Welsh Language as soon as possible to discuss the issue of FE sector pay for 22/23, to advocate the need for parity with schoolteachers and to highlight the significant inflationary pressures that the sector is experiencing.'

UCU's Wales negotiators told members that they understand the real anger that some members feel about the below inflation pay offers we see in other sectors. They added that the situation in FE in Wales is complex and wanted to lay out the facts so members understand the decisions being taken:

  1. we have a policy of pay parity with schoolteachers and in essence it means that the pay offer made in FE is the same as the pay offer made in schools. If we argue and/or ballot to achieve a pay offer for more than the schoolteachers receive, we will in effect be break our policy on pay parity
  2. the minister's decision on the final award to be made to schoolteachers has not been taken in Wales yet
  3. the National Education Union (NEU) is conducting an aggregated ballot of its schoolteacher members not its FE members in England and Wales. The fact that the ballot is aggregated means that they cannot identify the vote in Wales.

[Update: 7 February 2023] We commenced negotiations and in November 2022 we reached an impasse, and the FE colleges and trade unions agreed a cost of living supplement and uprated Real Living Wage to ensure that our member received a 5% supplementary pay rise before Christmas. The payment was made to college staff in December 2022 and will be ongoing from January 2023 and subject to further negotiations with the joint trade unions in January 2023.

[Update: 20 March 2023] The Joint Trade Unions in Further Education met with ColegauCymru on 12 January to discuss pay. A request was made by the JTU to CC for a formal response to our 2022/23 pay claim.

The principals met on 14 February 2023 to consider the pay claim from the joint unions. They responded as follows:

  • there have been some significant developments since the submission of the pay claim. This includes the payment of the 5% cost of living supplement, the implementation of the uprating to the Real Living Wage by all colleges, and the ongoing industrial dispute in the school sector
  • the employer remains committed to pay parity for all college staff with the school sector on condition that this is fully funded by the Welsh government. Given this commitment and given that there is still no resolution to the ongoing negotiations on pay within the school sector, they are not able to provide a formal response to the pay claim
  • they are eager to resolve the pay claim as soon as possible but given the current uncertainty in schools and the significant financial pressures on further education at the current time we are not able to present an offer at this stage
  • they will continue to monitor developments elsewhere and liaise with the Welsh government. 

Update 21 April 2023

The joint trade unions (JTU) met with ColegauCymru on Wednesday 29 March 2023 to discuss pay.

ColegauCymru confirmed that the sector was committed to pay parity with school teachers and offered a further 1.5% increase in pay for the 2022-23 academic year in addition to the 5% cost of living supplement which members received in December. This would mean a consolidated pay award of 6.5%, backdated to August 2022.

ColegauCymru stated they wouldn't automatically apply the additional 1.5% consolidated increase to staff who benefitted from the increase in the Real Living Wage, but there was an assurance that no member of staff would receive less than a 6.5% consolidated pay rise for the full year. 

A further 1.5% non-consolidated payment for all staff, including those who were subject to the increase in the Real Living Wage will be paid. Non-consolidated increases are one off payments.

ColegauCymru confirmed the Welsh government commitment to the principle of 'no detriment'. However, if England received a higher offer for schoolteachers, the sector would seek additional funding from Welsh government and reopen negotiations. 

The JTU wrote back to ColegauCymru requesting that the non-consolidated one-off payment should be either 1.5% or £500, whichever is greater. 

ColegauCymru responded on 21 April and proposed:

A £375 or 1.5% non-consolidated payment (whichever is the higher) (pro rata for part time staff). These proposals would build on the 5% cost of living supplement paid in December 2022 and the further 1.5% consolidated pay award (excluding staff on the RLW) that was proposed at the last WNCFE.

UCU Cymru Further Education Sector Committee (FESC) discussed the offer and agreed to note the offer to give the UCU national negotiators the option of reopening negotiations with ColegauCymru if school teachers in Wales are awarded a higher pay increase for 2022/23. This could only happen if teachers in England received a higher pay rise to that which has been awarded in Wales. Noting the offer will allow members to receive the additional pay rise backdated to August 2022 in their pay packets.

FESC considered accepting the offer but decided against this because to accept the offer would mean we wouldn't be able to reopen negotiations if England received a higher offer for school teachers.

FESC also considered rejecting the offer but rejecting the offer could mean moving away from parity with teachers. UCU Cymru has a long-standing policy to maintain parity with school teachers in Wales. Since the introduction of pay parity in 2004, our members have benefited and are paid on average around £3000 a year more than lecturers in England. It is also worth noting that when agreement is reached in Wales, every college honours the agreement, unlike in England where some colleges decide not to implement a pay increase for staff. Members will now be balloted online over the FESC decision.

Pay round 2021-22

The Wales Negotiations Committee for Further Education (WNCFE) met on the 13 January 2022 and the pay claim was discussed. The principal's forum asked again that we separate out the annual pay uplift and the collective matters which are normally expressed in national agreements. We refused to separate the two issues. Our rationale for doing so is that the pay uplift is linked to Welsh government funding and the pay review body for teachers and as such it is how we maintain pay parity with teachers.

However, this year we have only 'noted' the pay offer of 1.75% because the employer is still discussing the holiday issue and the national pay scale for support staff. This will mean that colleges can make the necessary arrangements for the pay increase to be paid in February, and avoid it being subject to new national insurance contribution rates, which will be introduced in April 2022.

The next meeting of the principal's forum will be 23/24 March 2022 and we are expecting their final response from that meeting. Further discussion will take place with the JTUs, and a plan of action will be presented to constituent unions for agreement.

Claim 2021-22

The joint trade unions submitted this year's pay claim and ColegauCymru (CC) are waiting for the final decision on teachers pay as they indicated their desire to maintain pay parity with school teachers. The text of the claim is as follows:

'This last year in further education in Wales demonstrated to all concerned that the staff genuinely put the well-being of their learners first. Everyone has thanked and commented upon that fact, and from the staff's perspective they welcome the recognition from the government and the employers.

However, words in and of themselves are not sufficient, the government and the employers must start to address the current underfunding of the FE sector and the impact that has on staff to do their jobs effectively.

Much is being made of the significant changes in pedagogy and delivery over the last twelve months, the increased use of digital resources to support learners and staff. But those changes have not been without their challenges. Staff have worked long hours to get their jobs done and to support the learners, making sure that they can complete their course of study and move onto the next phase in their lives.

Staff didn't say we are valued less than another group of staff, because our pay increase wasn't as large as that group, so we don't have to work quite as hard as they did. No, they pitched in and did what was required for their learners. Therefore, the government and the employers must now do what is required of them and address this pay claim fairly and with an uplift in salary that is consistent for all staff in further education. NO more differential pay awards for FE in Wales, without the express agreement of all staff groups.

1. A significant increase in pay to reflect the efforts of the last year and the below inflation raises for the past decade or more.

The fact that all staff across the FE sector have engaged in and collaborated in the past twelve months must not be overlooked and the value of those experiences must be captured by college management and embedded into each organisation. Colegau Cymru, the Joint Trade Unions and Welsh government are working in social partnership on a number of pilots currently to capture that data in the pilot colleges and make recommendations to the sector.

2. Recommendations emanating from this work will be presented to the WNCFE for implementation. Therefore, we call on the employer to commit to ensure that all the recommendations are implemented at a college level by the start of the academic year 2022/23.

Support staff in Wales do not have a national pay scale. The lack of progress on this issue is regrettable, but this year we want Colegau Cymru to finish this work and commit to working with the JTUs to progress this work as a matter of great importance. The employers to agree that:

3. A drafting group is established by WNCFE will the specific remit of finalising an all Wales pay scale for support staff.

4. The assimilation from the college pay scales to the new national pay.'

Claim 2020-21

The further education (FE) joint trade unions (JTUs) met with the employers (CC) on 11 Nov 2020 to discuss their response to the pay offer from Colegau Cymru (CC). As a consequence of the differential offer on pay the JTUs informed CC that they were only able to note the offer. Following that meeting CC wrote again to improve their offer to business support staff as follows:

'Following the meeting, members have had an opportunity to reflect on the allocation of funding available. As a result the following settlement will be actioned in order to hopefully reach pay packets as soon as possible. The exact terms are as follows:

  • business support staff of 3.1% 
  • staff on MG1 8.48% 

  • staff on other MG grades 3.75% 

  • staff on UP grades 2.75% 

  • managers 2.75%.

The settlement preserves as far as is possible pay parity with teachers which is a requirement of the additional funding provided by the minister. It also provides for an increase elsewhere of 2.75% and 3.1%, which is in excess of the LRD Pay Line median which currently stands at 2.0%. The members of the Forum appreciate the wider point being made by JTU in respect of differentiated settlements, but at this time the view is that we should end this year's negotiations. With the terms of a Welsh government funded independent survey being agreed with officials and the resolution of concerns regarding holiday use and accrual being resolved over the summer, I hope that the JTU can agree that the employers have met and indeed exceeded the terms requested in the pay claim for 2020/21.'
We expect the pay increase backdated to 1 August 2020 to be paid in the December 2020 pay packet.


The joint trades unions in Wales submitted their FE pay claim for the academic year 2019/20 on 24 July 2019, two days after the education minister announced that the School Teachers Review body had recommended a 2.4% uplift, the Welsh government announced their intention to award 2.75%, with a 5% uplift for newly qualified school teachers:

Pay claim for FE sector in Wales 2019-20 [219kb]

Margaret Phelan, Wales Official, said 'it will be interesting to see whether the employers continue to maintain pay parity with school teachers. We are expecting a response from Colegau Cymru mid-October.'

The joint trade unions wrote to the employers in February 2020 to accept a 2.75% increase in pay for all staff excluding those on MG1 of the lecturers' common pay scale and 5% increase in pay for all staff on MG1.

Claim 2018-19

The majority of joint trade union members voted to accept a revised pay offer following a claim of 7.5% made by the joint unions for 2018-19:

On the basis of the additional funding provided by the Welsh government our amended offer for the current academic year is a differentiated award set out as follows: 

Staff cohort Increase

  • All teaching grades up to and including Main Grade 6 lecturers 3.5% 
  • Upper spine (UP 1 - 3) 2% 
  • All staff on Management contract (Excluding Senior Post Holders) 1.5% 
  • Business support - (Salaries below £19,500) 4.5% 
  • Business support - (Salaries above £19,501) 2%

Claim 2017-18

The Joint Trade Unions (JTUs) submitted their pay claim for 2017/18 and negotiations with ColegauCymru began in June 2017:

Wales joint union pay claim 2017-18 [256kb]

ColegauCymru recommended a 1% increase to colleges. Although the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) made a recommendation that will result in a higher 2% increase across all scales points for teachers in Wales, UCU's Further Education Sector Committee has agreed to note the pay increase in members pay packets as they felt they would not be fair to ask members to lose a day's pay in order to gain an additional 1%. The 1% increase has already been paid by employers.

Claim 2016-17

The joint trade unions agreed to accept the 1% pay offer from ColegauCymru for 2016-17.

Wales joint union pay claim 2016-17 [179kb]

Employers response to the Wales joint union FE pay claim 2016-17 [1mb]

For more information please contact Karen Williams, UCU Wales administrator.

See also: Wales FE pay scales

Last updated: 27 June 2023