28th Oct, 2016

Staff at Warwickshire College strike over proposed pay freeze

Laura Kearns 10th Nov, 2015 Updated: 9 hours ago

STAFF from Warwickshire College took to the picket line earlier this week to strike over a proposed pay freeze.

More than 70 per cent of members from the University and College Union (UCU) voted in favour of strike action after the Association of Colleges (AoC) – which represents further education colleges – recommended a freeze on pay.

Warwickshire College’s Leamington site joined 29 others across the Midlands– including Stratford, Henley and Solihull – taking part in the action on Tuesday (November 10).

The college say they were unaffected by the strike, which saw staff take to the picket line at around 7.30am.

A spokeswoman told the Observer: “We are aware that some members of staff took part in the national UCU strike today.

“All of our colleges were open as normal on Tuesday and our students did not have their studies affected by this action.”

The UCU say the proposed pay freeze was an ‘insult’ to further education staff, and they hope strike action will prompt a response from the AoC.

UCU regional officer Anne O’Sullivan said: “Teaching staff were on strike today as part of national action in support of their pay claim for a rise of £1 per hour. The pay of teachers in the college sector has failed to keep up with the cost of living for the last few years to the extent that they are on average 17 per cent behind where they should be had their pay risen in line with inflation since 2008.

“The action was sparked by the AoC provocative response to the pay claim which was to recommend a further 0 per cent pay freeze for the coming year. Teachers have mortgages and families like everyone else and need to be able to plan for the future. They are not prepared to accept further downgrading of their pay, hence today’s strike.”

But the AoC say the pay recommendations reflect the financial situation in the further education sector.

Director of services Marc Whitworth said: “Our position reflects the feedback we had from our members. No further dialogue has been scheduled with our union colleagues regarding this cycle of negotiations.

“Strikes are very disruptive for colleges and more importantly for students. We would encourage UCU to consider how we might better work together to represent our respective members collectively. There is a willingness from the employers’ side to work together to protect the prospects of further education, its skilled workforce and the students it serves.”