Colleges strike today

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Lecturers at Lambeth College marching through Brixton during their strike action last year
Lecturers at Lambeth College marching through Brixton during their strike action last year

THOUSANDS of furious staff walked out of Further Education colleges across England from 7.00am this morning in a one-day strike to oppose a proposed pay freeze.

Lecturers, librarians, technicians, cleaners and caretakers who belong to Unison and the University and College Union (UCU) are among those taking part in the strike. The action has been called against a recommended pay freeze by the Association of Colleges following several years where staff have had very low pay rises resulting in a real-terms pay cut for some of up to 17 per cent.

Unison General Secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘Some colleges have promised their employees a pay rise, but the vast majority are determined not to budge from the zero per cent recommended.

‘We urge the Association to follow the example of those more enlightened colleges who want to come back to the table to try to resolve this dispute. The real villains in this dispute are government ministers, whose funding cuts over several years have left colleges in dire financial straits.

‘But it shouldn’t be Further Education employees paying the price. After years of pay freezes and real-terms pay cuts, staff have been left with no choice but to take action to win a fair deal. 

‘It’s time for the college employers to do the right thing, get back around the table and make a decent pay offer that rewards all college staff for their dedication and hard work.’

UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt added: ‘A pay freeze is an insult to the commitment and enthusiasm of staff working in FE, and fails to address the real-terms pay cut they have suffered in recent years.

‘Strike action is always a last resort but our members are clear that the Association of Colleges needs to return to the table with an appropriate pay offer in order to resolve this dispute.’

Three quarters (74 per cent) of UCU members who voted in the union’s ballot at the end of last year backed strike action. Last month, Unison also backed industrial action with two thirds (66 per cent) of those who voted backing the walkout.

A lunchtime rally is taking place at 1.00pm at the Emmanuel Centre, Marsham Street, London SW1P 3DW.