FE unions reject pay offer

‘Appalling’ offer from Association of Colleges falls far short of the joint union pay claim

UNISON and the other further education unions have jointly rejected a 2.25% pay offer for 2022/23 from the Association of Colleges (AOC).

The offer, made last Thursday, is not binding, meaning that individual colleges are under no obligation to implement it.

And it is in stark contrast to the claim that the unions jointly submitted In March – for a pay rise of 10% on all points, with a minimum uplift of £2,000, all colleges to become accredited Living Wage Foundation employers and for significant movement toward agreements on workload in colleges.

A joint statement from the unions – including GMB, NEU, UCU and Unite – points out that the offer follows a decade of real terms pay cuts for further education staff, which has seen pay fall behind inflation by more than 35% since 2009.

“During an unprecedented cost of living crisis, and with inflation currently at a 40-year high and set to rise further, this offer is insulting,” the statement adds. “The employer body has chosen not to use significant increases in core central government funding to invest in college staff, despite unions campaigning alongside AOC to secure it.

“None of the measures proposed by AOC will solve the college workforce crisis, which the employer body itself describes as being the ‘worst in two decades’. [The] failure to make an offer which will properly uplift pay and address unmanageable workloads could now see this crisis worsen further.”

Leigh Powell, UNISON national officer for education and children’s services, commented: “While this offer is appalling for all staff, after 12 years of stagnant pay, it is particularly bad that nothing further has been offered to staff at the lowest end of the pay scale – those that will be hit the hardest in the current cost of living crisis.

“The employers are still refusing to become accredited Foundation Living Wage employers,” she added. “Low-paid workers will not get the help they need until all colleges make a proper commitment to do this. Every single worker is entitled to a decent wage.”

The unions have “unequivocally rejected” the offer and urged the AOC to return with a much improved offer when the parties next meet on 20 June. UNISON intends to consult with its members after this meeting.

College staff pay