Further Education Unions Demand 6 Per Cent

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The six trade unions – ACM, ATL, GMB, UCU, UNISON and UNITE – representing 250,000 further education staff yesterday submitted a pay claim for six per cent or £1,500, whichever is the greater.

The catch-up claim covers Further Education (FE) workers in England including lecturers, learning support staff, cleaners, managers, caterers, librarians, security and lab technicians, and would establish a £7.38 an hour minimum wage.

The joint unions’ statement said: ‘Last year many FE staff faced a double whammy when they were awarded a below inflation pay deal, which some colleges then failed to implement.’

Barry Lovejoy, Joint Trade Union Side Secretary from UCU, said: ‘We want a better deal for FE staff which matches the rise in prices and the contribution members make to our colleges.

‘The recommended award this year was well below inflation and an effective pay cut for staff.

‘This claim seeks to make up the shortfall.’

Christine Lewis, Joint Trade Union Side Secretary and UNISON National Officer, added: ‘College staff are part of a community of public service workers who are entitled to a fair pay deal and they are determined to get one.

‘Further Education is the driver for the government’s skills agenda which is impossible to deliver if you have a low paid, demoralised workforce.’

The employer’s body, the Association of Colleges (AOC), makes a recommendation to individual FE colleges on pay.

In the past there have been problems because a significant number of colleges have chosen not to implement the agreed pay recommendation. Some even failed to offer any annual increase.

l Also yesterday, 2,200 members of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) working for the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) in England and Wales today began being balloted in a strike vote over below inflation pay.

The ballot for industrial action short of a strike and a one-day strike follows a below inflation pay offer with cost of living increases of no more than 1.9 per cent.

The offer sees the most experienced staff receive 1.25 per cent and those at the start of their pay band receive 1.9 per cent.

PCS stressed: ‘Salaries in the VOA start at £12,200 and the below inflation pay offer would represent a pay cut in real terms at a time when annual food inflation is at 7.4 per cent and costs for fuel and council tax are rising faster than wages.

‘The VOA is an executive agency of Revenue and Customs which supports the work valuing properties for council tax banding purposes.

‘The VOA do not determine council tax band ranges.

‘The ballot closes on the 18 February with the result being announced shortly after.’