Zero. Nothing. Zilch. That’s not an offer, it’s an insult

No-one ever votes lightly to take strike action. You weigh up the consequences to you, to your family, your co-workers and the organisation you work for. Public service workers have the added burden of considering the impact on those who use those vital services too.

Strike action is never taken on a whim – but sometimes it’s the only option when every other avenue has been exhausted.

Like when after years of wages being squeezed and your sector getting undermined by astonishing cuts, you’re offered a pay rise of … zero percent.



That’s not a pay offer, it’s an insult. Yet that’s what our further education (FE) members in England were ‘offered’ recently. Unsurprisingly, they’ve chosen to take industrial action, and will have the full support of the union in doing so.

This is especially disappointing considering that UNISON has been working constructively with the FE employers to challenge the funding cuts to the sector. There is still an opportunity for FE workers and employers to face the future together, yet doing so will have to mean more than derisory offers that put those struggling to make ends meet in financial difficulties.

This didn’t need to be the way things panned out. Whilst the FE budget has been frozen, the latest cuts we all expected to see didn’t materialise. The employers should be able to make an offer that isn’t, quite literally, nothing at all.

And we certainly hope that employers – and the government – will see sense, and stop harming further education, the livelihoods of those who work in it and the life chances of those who rely on it.