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In the news: 7 September 2018

Strike ballots over pay open in colleges and universities

Strike ballots at 110 colleges in England and 147 UK universities opened last Thursday (30 August) in a row over pay. Sally Hunt said: 'Staff working in our colleges and universities have had enough of seeing their wages held down while some principals and vice-chancellors pocket double digit pay rises and max out expense accounts. The pay offers do nothing to address years of decline in the value of our members' pay and have left us with no option but to ballot for strike action.'

Government refuses extra cash for FE pay

Just days before the ballots opened, skills minister Anne Milton wrote to the Association of Colleges to say that it would not fund a pay rise for college staff. Sally Hunt told FE Week that staff were 'fed up with excuses from colleges and government' and said colleges would have been 'foolish to rely solely on a plea to government to meet staff pay expectations.'

In a piece for Tes, journalist Julia Belgutay called this a missed opportunity and said the sector needs to 'stand up proud and shout about its importance and its achievement'. UCU is currently planning a week of action on FE pay and funding including a national lobby of parliament on 17 October - more details will be circulated to members in the coming days.

UCU seeks members' views on second Brexit referendum

UCU also launched a ballot on Monday asking members to vote on whether the union should support calls for a referendum on the final Brexit deal. Speaking to the Independent ahead of the ballot launch, Sally Hunt said a 'deal or no-deal Brexit' was 'the biggest challenge facing higher education and the country'. UCU has launched a consultation webpage for members to share views and debate, featuring guest posts from a range of campaigners and policy experts including Nick Hillman, Robert Halfon MP and Caroline Lucas MP.

Moves to tackle insecure contracts at NCG welcomed

UCU has welcomed a move by NCG to improve the employment security of its staff by limiting the duration of casual contracts and offering permanent contracts to staff after two years. Sally Hunt told Tes that the 'added security will be life-changing for staff.' Speaking to FE Week, she said the change 'sets a benchmark for good practice' and encouraged other colleges and universities to follow suit.

Last updated: 7 September 2018