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UCU and NCG Group agree more security for teaching staff

6 September 2018 | last updated: 17 September 2018

Teaching staff at the NCG Group should have more security as a consequence of a major new agreement between UCU and a national level FE provider.

Teaching staff at the NCG Group should have more security as a consequence of a major new agreement between UCU and a national level FE provider. NCG is a significant, national level provider of FE and vocational training, comprising Newcastle College, Kidderminster College, West Lancashire College and, most recently Lewisham and Southwark College, as well as the two major training providers: Intraining and Rathbone.

NCG's agreement with UCU covers the FE colleges and should mark a significant move away from the use of hourly paid contracts to employ teaching staff. Under the agreement, NCG commit to changing the terms on which they engage teaching staff. Rather than employing significant numbers of teachers on casual and hourly paid fixed-term contracts, NCG has now committed to ensuring that casual contracts are no longer used for any teaching work that exceeds 8 weeks and to employing staff on open-ended fractional contracts wherever possible.

This should represent a substantial remodelling of the workforce and should also ensure that any use of casual contracts should be restricted to a handful of casual roles like life models or invigilators or sickness cover. The NCG agreement also commits to making fixed-term contracts permanent wherever possible and exploring the potential for any additional hours that become available being used to supplement existing part-timers hours rather than providing a justification for the recruitment of people on casual contracts. The intention of the agreement is that the main teaching force will increasingly be engaged on full or part-time fractional contracts, mostly permanent but some fixed term, with hourly paid teachers transferring according to their service.

The UCU branches at NCG are not complacent about making this deal work. They know that it's vital to ensure that staff employed on hourly paid contracts feel the benefit of this agreement and will be monitoring its implementation closely.

This is a significant agreement, covering a large FE teaching workforce and represents the culmination of over a year of negotiations. Coming in the wake of a series of similar agreements at London College Groups pursued through National Plus claims and backed with industrial action, it shows two things. Firstly, it's yet more proof that UCU is determined to push the cause of precariously employed staff across the FE sector. Secondly, it demonstrates that in spite of many protestations to the contrary and in the face of the failure of the FE sector as a whole to address the issue of precarious work, it is possible for colleges to move away from their rigid insistence on the need to employ teachers on exploitative contracts in the name of 'flexibiilty'. 

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