Further education trade unions criticise ColegauCymru’s mixed messages on pay

Further Education unions representing workers across Wales are shocked and dismayed at the handling of this year’s pay negotiations by the colleges. The unions, now balloting over a pay freeze, have been left puzzled following contradictory messages between formal negotiation meetings and comments made in the press by ColegauCymru, the organisation that negotiate with trade unions on behalf of employers.

Margaret Phelan, joint trade union (JTU) secretary, said:

“I am amazed by reports I’ve read in the press that colleges have been advised by ColegauCymru to wait until January before making a decision over our members pay. 

“We were told in writing and in formal meetings by ColegauCymru that further education colleges will not be making a pay offer this academic year and formal ballots for strike action have already started as a result.

“In addition, some colleges have opted to break ranks based on ColegauCymru’s position and implement a pay increase, which will undermine years of work building up a structured approach to industrial relations within the sector. 

“Yet ColegauCymru is now saying something completely different in the press by indicating that discussions around pay are ongoing between them and the Welsh government.”

Simon Dunn, JTU chairperson, said:

“We have negotiated annual pay rises on an all-Wales basis for a number of years.  We approach negotiations seriously and professionally. 

“Our members are being balloted on strike action across Wales and, if our members vote to strike, it will have a serious impact on the running of colleges. The decision to strike is not a step that is taken lightly. 

“Colleges, however, do not appear to be approaching the negotiations in the same way and could be seen to be playing games. ColegauCymru need to sort this mess out. 

“College bosses must sit down and negotiate an all-Wales agreement in good faith with the trade unions – it is clearly in the best interests of all concerned.”