Further education unions ‘outraged’ at pay offer

UNISON says college leaders have broken their pay promises and that pay in the FE sector is ‘simply too low’

Trade unions representing staff in English further education colleges have slammed the decision by the Association of Colleges (AoC) to only offer a 1% pay increase to staff.

In a joint pay claim submitted in October, the unions (UNISON, UCU, NEU, Unite and GMB) made clear that college staff had suffered a real-terms pay cut of 30% since 2009 with over 24,000 teaching staff leaving the sector.  

This year colleges saw a significant £224m increase in funding, yet it is unclear what employers spent this on instead of investing in staff.  

The unions believe that only full transparency into where the money was spent will give staff the answers they need. 

The unions said that after years of campaigning with employers for more money for staff, now is not the time for excuses on pay but instead an investment in staff so that further education can provide the skills for a post-COVID recovery. 

The unions also called on employers to publicly commit to working towards closing the £7000 pay gap between school and college teaching staff and introduce the foundation living wage.  

UNISON head of education Jon Richards said: “College leaders had made clear promises that staff would get a substantial pay rise this year. But they’ve simply ripped these up and raided the wage pot to foot the bill for the pandemic. 

“Pay in the FE sector is simply too low and this offer yet again ignores the value of college staff.”