Thousands of lecturers and other staff will launch a campaign of strike action from Monday (26 September) in a dispute over pay.
Around 4,000 members of the University and College Union (UCU) at 31 colleges in England will take up to 10 days of strike action over the coming weeks.
The union said the level of industrial action being undertaken is “unprecedented” in England, but staff have been left “with no other option” as college bosses “refuse to raise pay”. Staff will be picketing outside colleges on each morning of the strikes.
Why are teachers and lecturers striking?
The union said that since 2009 pay in further education has fallen behind inflation by 35% while the pay gap between school and college teachers stands at around £9,000.
The strike comes after 89.9% of University and College Union (UCU) members voted in favour of industrial action. Staff were initially offered a 1% deal, which was rejected, followed by a revised offer of 2.5%.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Strike action on this scale in further education is unprecedented but our members have been left with no other option, they are being pushed into poverty by college bosses who refuse to raise pay to help them meet the cost-of-living crisis.
“College staff deliver excellent education but over the last 12 years their pay has fallen behind inflation by 35% and now thousands are skipping meals, restricting energy use and considering leaving the sector altogether.
“This strike action will continue for 10 days unless college bosses wake up to this crisis, stop dining off the goodwill of their workforce and make a serious pay offer.”
The Derby Telegraph has reported that teachers and lecturers at Derby College are set to take 10 days of term-time strike action after rejecting the offer of a 2.5% pay rise.
Edward Pickering-Symes, a computer science lecturer, told the paper that a number of teachers have left the college in recent years in favour of working in schools or in industries offering higher pay and more annual leave.
He said: “We have many experienced teachers and support staff who are leaving in droves because, in real terms, we are facing a 30% shortfall in pay, due to lack of pay rises and inflation. The college is not putting the retention of high-quality staff first, despite being financially sound, and this will inevitably have a knock-on effect on education standards.”
When are lecturers striking?
The strikes will take place over four weeks in the first half term of the academic year. The full dates of strike action are:
- Week 1: Monday 26, Tuesday 27 and Wednesday 28 September (3 days)
- Week 2: Thursday 6 and Friday 7 October (2 days)
- Week 3: Monday 10 and Tuesday 11 October (2 days)
- Week 4: Tuesday 18 Wednesday, 19 and Thursday 20 October (3 days)
According to UCU’s website, staff at Burnley, Liverpool and Oldham colleges are also striking over pay, but are striking on different dates, which are: Tuesday 4, Wednesday 5 and Thursday 6 October.
Who else has been striking over pay?
The industrial dispute follows a summer of strikes across other sectors, including rail, post and telecoms. These walkouts are set to continue in the coming weeks.
Royal Mail workers plan to strike on 30 September and 2,000 London bus drivers will strike from 4 October 4. Train drivers will also take industrial action.