FE pay in Wales

Pay agreements which apply in Wales only and have been negotiated between UCU together with other trade unions and the Welsh FE employers' association ColegauCymru.

Joint unions' pay and conditions claim 2015-16

The joint trade unions (JTUs) submitted a pay claim to the employers on 26 June 2015:

The JTUs then met with the employers on 23 October 2015 and were advised that they would not respond formally to the pay claim until they have been advised of the indicative budgets for 2016/17.

At the meeting on the 4 March it was agreed that ColegauCymru (CC) could pay the 1% on account in the March pay packet, while the trade unions consulted their membership on the offer and it was agreed that the trade unions would respond to the offer by the end of April. Members should be hearing from their branch officers after the 12 April in time for the special FESC on 23 April 2016.

Response to the pay claim

Claim part 1: The further education joint trade unions claim is for an increase in pay of £1 per hour for all staff.

This claim is a flat claim because it delivers the same increase for all staff and therefore addresses the cost of living crisis faced by the lowest paid in the further education sector.

Employers' response

The employers' side response to the pay and conditions claim is a consolidated 1% pay uplift to staff pay scales, which would be backdated to the beginning of the 2015/16 academic financial year.

Negotiators' comments

At the negotiating table it was agreed that CC could pay the 1% on account in the March pay packet, whilst the trade unions consulted their membership on the offer and it was agreed that the JTUs would respond by the end of April.

Negotiators' recommendation

Given the very poor turnout in the membership ballot which asked 'Would you be prepared to take part in strike action or action short of strike action to achieve an agreement with ColegauCymru on the 2015/16 pay claim?' we would recommend acceptance of the 1% pay offer.

Rationale, we should provide leadership and be up front with members when we think it is in their best interests to accept a pay claim. We cannot go to ballot and neither should we sit on the fence, FESC leadership has always provided strong leadership, which is why we have achieved what we have over the past 10 years.

Living Wage

Claim part 2. To recommend that colleges enter into discussion with the Living Wage Foundation on achieving accredited status and consider requiring the payment of the 'living wage' to be a condition of their tender documents.

Employers' response

The JTUs will also note that colleges adopting the national contract are committed to paying the Living Wage Foundation's (LWF) Living Wage to their employed staff as colleagues are collectively transferred to the new contracts. Decisions will be made locally as to whether colleges will apply for accreditation with the LWF.

Negotiators' comment

A matter for Unison and GMB.

National travel agreement

Claim part 3.  To recommend to colleges that ColegauCymru enter into negotiations with the JTU side to produce an agreement which addresses the following: appropriate travel time recognised within the Travel, Mobility and Workload policies within colleges and a rate equivalent to HRMC recommendations for use of private vehicles.

National agreement on the use of agency staff

Claim part 4. To recommend to colleges that ColegauCymru enter into negotiations with JTU side to produce an agreement on the circumstances in which colleges could consider using Agency staff.

Guidance on use of part-time contracts for lecturing staff

Claim part 5.  ColegauCymru have committed to reviewing the national part-time agreement (for lecturers) as a consequence of the introduction of the national contract. We think it is timely to consider issuing guidance on the use of these contracts.

National agreement on lesson observations

Claim part 6. To recommend to colleges that ColegauCymru enter into negotiations with the JTU side to produce an agreement on lesson observations, reflecting the new guidance from Estyn for further education once it is published.

Employers' response applies to all collective agreements within the claim

The employers' side cannot agree to the proposal in the JTUs claim for new national agreements in areas that are not already part of the agreement implementing the national contract for FE staff.

Negotiators' comment

During the meeting on the 4 March the trade union side explored this response to the claim to establish whether this was a blanket 'no more collective agreements' or whether it was a matter of the drafting group already having 5 collective agreements to work on. Turns out it was neither.

On the travel agreement they said that HMRC rules apply and therefore they couldn't set rates as a sector, clearly misunderstanding the purpose of the travel agreement.

We recommend that this matter is given to the seminar on workload to discuss and consider drafting into the workload allocation agreement.

Use of agency staff is not widespread and CC are quite clear that they won't get agreement on this from all principals. We will have an agreement on the use of casual staff soon, the draft should be ready for the next full meeting of CC, date yet to be agreed.

We recommend that we review the use of agency staff once the casualisation agreement has been signed off to see whether we need to pursue this issue and if we did would we have the support of the membership to do so.

Guidance of the use of part-time contracts is being considered already as we need to update the 2005 part-time hourly paid agreement.

We recommend that we see what the negotiating process produces and consider if we need to re-visit once the 2005 agreement has been updated.

Lesson observations are not seen as something which CC would be willing to negotiate over as they say they have to conform to the requirements of Estyn. However our officials are engaged with CC and the Welsh Government on this matter.

We recommend that the officials are allowed to pursue this matter with CC and the Welsh government and we request that they update FESC at each meeting to ensure that matters related to lessons observations and CPD and the role of the EWC remain on the FESC agenda.

For more information please contact Karen Williams, Wales administrator, kwilliams@ucu.org.uk

See also: Wales FE pay scales

Last updated: 14 April 2016