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Unions slam employers over broken promise on pay offer

10 June 2009 | last updated: 11 December 2015

The six further education trade unions - the Association for College Management (ACM), the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), the GMB, the University and College Union (UCU), UNISON and UNITE - today accused college employers of breaking their promise over staff pay.

The unions said that the Association of Colleges (AoC) had failed to improve on its 1% pay offer for staff in further education, despite indicating it would come back with a better deal at the previous meeting.

In April the further education trade unions submitted a 6% pay claim for 2009/2010 with a minimum increase of £2,000 for the lowest paid. Further education staff have a crucial role to play in tackling the recession, as people seek to refresh their skills to gain new employment. The unions are urging the employers to come back to the negotiating table with the promised improved offer.

Barry Lovejoy, joint secretary of the trade union side and UCU head of further education said: 'This offer at a stroke has halted progress in reducing the gap between school teachers and staff in further education. All the good the work that has gone into narrowing the inequality between college lecturers' pay and school teachers' pay could quickly unravel. Colleges are at the heart of our communities, enriching people's lives, delivering high quality education and providing the backbone for the government's skills agenda. Staff deserve to be paid a fair wage and not to be treated with such contempt by their employers. The employers need to improve the pay offer and come back for more talks immediately.'

Chris Fabby, joint secretary of the trade union side and UNISON national officer for further education said: 'This offer means just 5p per hour more for many of our members. It will go nowhere near helping them to cope with the still high cost of food and fuel as winter sets in. The employers need to get back round the table and come up with a more realistic offer. We have told them time and time again, but it still rings true: you can't run a world class education system on poverty pay.'

  • The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) shows that in the decade to 2008 average earnings across the economy rose 47% and by 41.3% in the public sector. However, pay for further education lecturers and college managers increased by only 21.9% in that time.

    Since the implementation of the harmonised pay spine in August 2005 prices have increased by 17.5% while the AoC recommended increases to pay and allowances have only totalled 13.5%, resulting in a real terms pay cut to staff in further education of 4 % in that time.

    The ASHE survey shows the gap in pay between school teachers and further education lecturers and managers remains stubbornly high with further education employees still 6% behind.

    The Learning and Skills Network survey of further education staff satisfaction showed that over 92% of further education staff work beyond their contracted hours and just under half are unable to achieve a satisfactory work/life balance.