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Strikes still on at five colleges as progress is made in some disputes

19 March 2019 | last updated: 21 March 2019

UCU members at West Thames College, South Bank College, Croydon College, Bradford College and Harlow College will be on strike on Wednesday 20 March in a row over pay.

Members at West Thames College walked out for three days on Monday 18 March and they will be joined by colleagues at the four other colleges as they walk out from Wednesday 20 March until Friday 22 March.

The union said those colleges only had themselves to blame for the latest wave of disruption as a number of other colleges either reached agreement with the union to end the dispute or had made enough progress to allow for the strikes to be suspended*.

The strikes are part of a third wave of action after UCU members at six colleges took action in November and staff at 12 colleges walked out at the end of January. The dispute centres on the failure of college bosses to make a decent pay offer to staff or address key issues such as excessive workloads.

The pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools currently stands at £7,000 as staff have seen the value of their pay decline by 25% over the last decade. UCU said members were fed up with being told that nothing was possible unless the government came to the rescue. The union said it was simply not true that colleges could not work with it on pay, workloads or job security.

UCU head of further education Andrew Harden said: 'Strike action is always a last resort and we are pleased that some colleges have worked with us to prioritise their staff and avoid disruption for students. We have always said colleges who engage with us on the pay and conditions of their staff will get a positive hearing and we are extremely frustrated that some chose not to do this.

'Bradford's refusal to even hold talks until next month sends a terrible message to staff and students about where the college's priorities lie. Where we have suspended action, colleges need to continue to work with us or we will have no option but to call further action.'


*Notes

COLLEGE

STATUS OF DISPUTE

WEST THAMES COLLEGE

ON STRIKE MON-WEDS

BRADFORD COLLEGE

ON STRIKE WEDS-FRI

CROYDON COLLEGE

ON STRIKE WEDS-FRI

HARLOW COLLEGE

ON STRIKE WEDS-FRI

SOUTH BANK COLLEGE

ON STRIKE WEDS-FRI

BATH COLLEGE

SUSPENDED

PETROC

SUSPENDED

CITY OF WOLVERHAMPTON COLLEGE

SUSPENDED

BRIDGWATER AND TAUNTON COLLEGE

SETTLED

NEW COLLEGE SWINDON

SETTLED

BATH

Strikes have been suspended to allow for further negotiations and UCU has made it clear that if members are dissatisfied with how they progress the action will be resumed. The union was content with how talks went this week with the college putting forward proposals to overhaul pay scales.

PETROC

Strikes have been suspended to allow for further talks. UCU was satisfied with commitments from the college on dealing with fractionalisation, establishing maximum teaching hours and the promise of further discussions on pay. Those statements of intent need to be matched by actions in further negotiations if we are to avoid further disruption.

CITY OF WOLVERHAMPTON

Strike suspended pending governors' meeting on 26 March at which the union hopes an improved offer will be authorised. If the offer that comes back after the governors' meeting is unsatisfactory, the three days of strikes will go ahead in early April, likely to be Monday 8, Tuesday 9 and Wednesday 10 April. There are also live ballots at Coventry College and Warwickshire College Group in the West Midlands, so they may look to coordinate action.

BRIDGWATER & TAUNTON

Dispute has been settled as members voted to accept a deal that includes the end of graded lesson observations and a 2% pay rise over nine months (1% in April 2019 and another 1% in January 2020). Lower paid members will receive a 5% increase in April 2019.

NEW COLLEGE SWINDON

Strikes off at New College Swindon as deal agreed

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