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London UCU branches win gains for hourly paid staff in FE

14 June 2018 | last updated: 12 July 2018

The last two weeks have seen London further education (FE) branches winning significant improvements for hourly paid lecturers in settlement of disputes over pay and casualisation.

At Capital College Group, which incorporates City and Islington College, CONEL and Westminsrer Kingsway, the branch put in a claim for all hourly paid lecturers who had been working for two years or more at more than 10 hours a week to be moved onto permanent fractional contracts. The final settlement will see all hourly paid lecturers who have been working for three years at 12 hours a week offered fractional contracts. In addition, the settlement removes 'affordability' or 'observation' based eligibility criteria which had been in place at CONEL. Around 45 hourly paid lecturers are expected to benefit directly in the first tranche.

At New City College, which includes Hackney, Redbridge and Tower Hamlets colleges, hourly paid staff at Hackney who were on a fixed hourly rate will now be assimilated to the main grade lecturer scale. This means that they will now have access to incremental pay progression and the £400 consolidated pay award open to other lecturers.

What's significant about these settlements is that the claims and the strike action that backed them up were tabled to take up at local level the national pay claim and united the interests of casualised and permanent staff. In this, they were similar to the National Plus agreements won at colleges like Sussex Coast and South Downs, which similarly contained elements on casualisation benefiting casualised staff.

Tabling claims with a casualisation element is an approach that can provide valuable leverage and bring significant wins, providing branches hold firm to the need for settlement on all points. UCU has provided specific guidance to FE branches on submitting elements on casualisation to their 'national plus' claims. This can be found in UCU Branch Action Note FE12 (October 2017) here.

UCU is also producing a new campaign pack for FE branches to help them develop local claims on casualisation and campaign in support of them. Watch this space for more soon.