College walk out over pay

College staff at St Helens College are among those nationally taking part in a strike (library picture)
College staff at St Helens College are among those nationally taking part in a strike (library picture)

Colleges in St Helens are today striking in a row over pay.

Lecturers, librarians and technicians at St Helens College and Knowsley Community College who belong to UNISON and the University and College Union (UCU) are among those taking part in the one-day walk-out over pay.

Funding cuts over several years have left colleges in dire financial straits. But it shouldn’t be further education employees paying the price

Dave Prentis

The national protest is against a recommended pay freeze by the Association of Colleges, following several years where staff have had very low pay rises, resulting in a real-terms pay cut for some of up to 17 per cent.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Some colleges have promised their employees a pay rise, but the vast majority are determined not to budge from the zero per cent recommended. We urge the Association to follow the example of those more enlightened colleges who want to come back to the table to try to resolve this dispute.

“Funding cuts over several years have left colleges in dire financial straits. But it shouldn’t be further education employees paying the price.

“After years of pay freezes and real terms pay cuts, staff have been left with no choice but to take action to win a fair deal. It’s time for the college employers to do the right thing, get back around the table and make a decent pay offer that rewards all college staff for their dedication and hard work.”

UCU General Secretary Sally Hunt, who will address a rally for further education staff in London today, added:

“A pay freeze is an insult to the commitment and enthusiasm of staff working in further education, and fails to address the real-terms pay cut they have suffered in recent years. Strike action is always a last resort but our members are clear that the Association of Colleges needs to return to the table with an appropriate pay offer in order to resolve this dispute.”

A St Helens College spokesman said: “St Helens College can confirm that it has been informed that staff who are members of UCU and UNISON unions will be taking part in national industrial action in the form of a one day strike on Wednesday, February 24.

“It is unclear exactly how many staff will be participating in the strike.

“The college will remain open and we will be doing our utmost to minimise the impact on students by communicating any changes to them in advance of the strike.”