College staff set for strike action after ‘derisory’ 1% pay offer


When students return to Croydon College next month, many hopeful for an uninterrupted academic year after 18 months of lockdown disruption, they could walk straight into strike action by their lecturers and other staff.

Strike ballot: UCU members at Croydon College want a 5% pay rise

An overwhelming majority – 89 per cent – of members of the University and College Union at Croydon College and 14 other colleges in England have voted for strike action. Six south London colleges took part in the ballot (which had a 62 per cent turn-out): Croydon, Carshalton College, Lambeth College, Merton College, Wandsworth and Tooting College, and Kingston College.

UCU members are demanding a pay increase of greater than 5 per cent to help close what they call “the school-college pay gap”, and which they say stands at £9,000, after more than a decade of below-inflation wage increases for further education staff.

The decision to strike follows a long-standing dispute. UCU members at Croydon College went on strike to demand a 5 per cent pay rise in 2018 and 2019.

The dispute has escalated after the body that oversees FE institutions, the Association of Colleges, recommend that colleges give their staff only a 1 per cent pay rise. They said this was because of the “severe financial pressure” that colleges are facing as a result of covid-19.

The UCU said staff are “angry” at this offer after years of joint campaigning with colleges won further education a £400million increase in government funding, £224million of which arrived in August 2020.

According to the UCU, college bosses at the AoC indicated that it would make a more significant pay recommendation because of this funding. The UCU action has the support of other unions, including Unite, Unison, GMB and the National Education Union.

The UCU said that college leaders have until September to meet their demands, or they will take strike action.

Jo Grady, the UCU general secretary, said, “This ballot result is an emphatic message from college staff to principals that they will not sit back while their pay is held down.

“Thanks to UCU’s campaigning, colleges received an injection of government funding, but they have failed to work with us to prioritise pay. Instead, employers have recommended a derisory 1 per cent pay rise, which is a real term pay cut.

“Pay in further education is a problem, and it is time for colleges and the AoC to get serious and do something about it.”

Croydon College offers a range of further and higher education courses, including BTECs, NVQs, and apprenticeships, as well as degree courses validated by Roehampton University. It also includes the world-famous Croydon College of Art. The most recent available figures suggests that Croydon College has 10,000 enrolled students.

Croydon College failed to respond to our invitation for comment.

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1 Response to College staff set for strike action after ‘derisory’ 1% pay offer

  1. Ian Kierans says:

    Most definitely 1% is wrong – There are financial pressures but to continually cut Employees pay as the lowest business priority harms them the students and the business long term. Always good employee’s leave and you are in the race for the bottom.
    I would suggest to any new student to look at the last three years pay increase and the benchmark remuneration along with tutor hours and there own personal requirements and pick those that have an incremental increase in those areas. When comparing ranking tables make sure those staff are still employed and have not moved on. Contact former students if needed.

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