Colleges must deliver on their promise to increase staff pay now the government has provided further education an extra £400 million funding, said trade unions as they launched their pay claim for England.

The Association of Colleges, which represents English colleges, had previously said any staff pay increase was contingent on increased government funding.

The unions said it was time for colleges to finally agree a significant pay rise for further education staff and bring contracted staff back in-house. The pay claim - submitted by UCU, UNISON, NEU, GMB and Unite - calls for:

  • A significant move towards the full restoration of college pay levels to where they would be had college pay kept pace with inflation since 2009
  • The living wage, calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, to be the minimum wage in the sector
  • All further education colleges in England becoming accredited living wage employers with the Foundation
  • All contracted-out services to be brought back in-house with improvements in terms and conditions equal to those already directly employed by the college.

Unite national officer Siobhan Endean said: “Support staff in further education colleges have suffered a decade of relentless pay cuts. College staff deserve a generous pay rise and the government must fund further education if it's going to meet its aspirations for a highly skilled UK labour force and put flesh on its "levelling up" rhetoric.

“Already there are skill shortages reported across the economy and they must be tackled as a matter of urgency if Britain is to flourish in a post-Brexit, post-pandemic global economy.'”

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “We have finally seen £400m in extra government funding so colleges must now deliver on their promise to staff that they would be first in line when the money arrives.

'Any national Covid recovery plan must have further education at its core. But unless colleges honour their promise to pay staff, it will be impossible to attract and retain the staff colleges need to be able to play their role in the national recovery effort.”

UNISON national further education officer Leigh Powell said: “Low pay in colleges has left catering, cleaning, security, administrative and technical staff struggling to make ends meet. 

“Ministers say they want to improve further education and the UK's skills base, but with this must come decent wages for staff. College employers must play their part. A significant pay rise will help rebuild the sector and help attract and retain a dedicated and professional workforce.”

NEU joint general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “We need urgent action to restore the huge real-terms pay cuts in further education. Staff in further education have a vital role to play in our economy and society. We must ensure that their pay reflects that key role, starting with a significant restoration of the real-terms cuts in this pay round.

“Building back better must mean paying better if we are to succeed in the Government's ambitions for upskilling and reskilling different workforces in the economy.”

GMB National Officer Stuart Fegan said: The coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on how our further education members have gone above and beyond in providing support to students, the public, and their institutions.” 

ENDS

Notes to editors:

https://ucu.org.uk/article/11038/Unions-demand-colleges-deliver-on-promise-to-increase-staff-pay

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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.