Further education colleges in crisis

The future of further education provision is in jeopardy, conference hears

UNISON vowed to continue to fight for further education jobs and to negotiate the best conditions for workers in the face of drastic and on-going cuts.

Local government conference heard that with more than 30,000 UNISON members working in further education and sixth form colleges across the UK, there continues to be concerns about the future of FE provision.

A recent National Audit Office report revealed that more than half of all colleges are in deficit and could face an uncertain future.

This is despite the sector having lost one million learners since 2009 and 16 to 18s receiving the same funding as they did in 1990.

“At Kirklees College, workers were threatened with 95 redundancies,” said Dean Pye, Northern region.

“Yet despite 84% of members voting resoundingly in favour of strike action, the ballot was three votes short of 50% turnout, as required by the government’s new legislation.”

UNISON Northern region has established a very successful regional forum for reps to recruit and organise further in FE colleges.

Regional forums are also an opportunity to raise awareness of the FE crisis with politicians and the wider public.

Conference voted to expand UNISON regional forums and to develop a regional network of further education reps to expand the fight against cuts, reduced working conditions and compulsory redundancies.