Further education college members in England are voting on their employers’ pay offer in a consultative ballot, which closes on 17 November.
UNISON is recommending rejection of the Association of Colleges’ offer of 1% or £250 – whichever is more – in the online ballot which opened on Friday 27 October.
The union’s further education committee noted that the offer amounts to a pay cut in real terms – prices measured by CPI inflation are increasing by 2.9% according to the latest figures. RPI inflation is running at 3.9%.
The union called the offer “more than disappointing”.
“Our members are working harder, but they are being paid less in real terms,” commented national officer Ruth Levin.
“Many members have not had a pay rise for many years as colleges are not obliged to implement the Association of Colleges recommendation,” she added.
On top of that, “many support staff in further education colleges are work on term-time only contracts and many are part-time.”
A UNISON survey this year of members working in colleges showed that more than 16% are paid less than £12,000 a year and more than 29% get less than £15,000.
“Support staff are telling us that they are struggling to pay their bills, rent or mortgage and to pay for food,” said Ms Levin.
UNISON is calling for improved funding for further education and acknowledges the commitment from the Association of Colleges to jointly campaign with the unions improved funding for colleges.
The UK needs a well trained and skilled workforce, says the union, which makes it vital that further education is well resourced both in terms of college facilities and a workforce that is “valued, invested in and fairly rewarded”.
UNISON does acknowledge the commitment from the Association of Colleges to jointly seek improved funding for colleges.
Members who are eligible to vote in the online ballot will have received an email or text message with details on how to vote.