Organising in FE Colleges

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2018 Local Government Service Group Conference
21 February 2018

Conference notes that whilst UNISON represents 30,000 members working in further education and sixth form colleges across the UK, our members work in a variety of roles, including: training and assessment; technical; library services; facilities; administration; specialist learning support, curriculum support; catering; IT, data; finance, procurement, we note the threat they are under.

There continues to be concerns regarding the financial sustainability and future over our FE provision, with a recent report by the (NAO) National Audit Office showing that just over a half of colleges are in deficit. Meaning the future for some of our FE college members is uncertain. Despite the threats that our members face it may be worth exploring ways to celebrate the great work our members do in FE colleges, and holding an event on an annual basis similar to the stars in our schools event.

Conference notes with concern the continued attacks on funding for FE colleges creating further divide over the fact that the Association of Colleges (AoC) only makes recommendations over pay, thereby allowing some colleges not to give any pay awards, and this has resulted in many members not receiving a pay award for over 5 years.

Nationally and locally we continue to campaign on improving pay – including introducing the living wage for the lowest paid college workers – and protecting terms and conditions but more must be done to continue to support these members, and to continue to grow our membership.

Within the Northern region there has been a very successful regional forum established for FE reps which not only provides support for our representatives. This positive work has lead to increasing the profile of FE within the region both with members and non members as well as politicians. The region successfully adopted a regional FE manifesto that was launched at a regional council meeting.

Conference believes that the necessary resources should be given to branches and regions to ensure that UNISON representatives are supported to protect our members in FE and to assist in recruiting and organising within the FE sector.

Conference therefore calls on the SGE to:

1)Continue to support regions and branches to campaign on improving pay;

2)Recruit and organise within each FE college and provide a Regional FE reps network meeting to assist with this;

3)Develop a regional network of FE representatives to provide support for local representatives to campaign to resist cuts and oppose any potential compulsory redundancies;

4)Encourage branches to develop organising action plans for FE workplaces;

5)Work with FE colleges and local politicians to get agreement to the national FE manifesto;

6)Hold a Stars in our FE day on an annual basis.