Calling all UNISON members in Further Education (FE) in England – take part in our online ballot and have your say on pay.

Voting is now open and closes on 6 February 2019.

If you work in FE in England, this is your chance to tell us what action you would be prepared to take to help us improve your pay.

Please note, this is a ballot for UNISON members in England only. We are not balloting members in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland on pay.

Vote now

If you are not already a member, but work in FE in England you can still take part in the ballot if you join by 23 January 2019.

Join now

UNISON is recommending that you vote YES for both strike action and YES for action short of strike action. Your vote will help us show the strength of your feelings as we negotiate with employers and the government.

Members should have received an email with a link to vote.

Check we have a current email address for you:

Update your details

You will be able to vote even if we do not have your email address by going to the voting form.


Update on FE pay in Wales

More clarification is needed before the offer can be consulted on, says UNISON

FE members to be consulted over pay offer

Government refuses to provide additional funding for colleges to make better pay offer

Unions and employers link up to fight for colleges

Campaign will see further education unions, college employers and students lobby Parliament in October to call for proper funding

Pay up now ID

English further education pay claim submitted

Claim is for 5% or £1,500, whichever is greater, and the living wage

College workers vote on employers’ pay offer in England

UNISON recommends rejection of pay offer of 1% or £250 from Association of Colleges in online ballot which runs until 17 November

The issue

UNISON represents 30,000 members working in FE colleges across the UK. Our members do a fantastic job helping students learn, keeping buildings safe and clean, making things run smoothly and ensuring that all students are supported while they are at college.

But, they are being forced to do these jobs under increasing pressure as years of underfunding takes its toll. In the last 10 years funding in our FE colleges has been cut, in real terms, by a massive 30% leaving staff with fewer resources and struggling to provide a meaningful education to students.

At the same time our members have seen their pay cut by a whopping 25%. Staff in some colleges in England have not had a pay rise at all in the last 10 years, while others get small rises that don’t keep up with the cost of living. It’s no wonder that people are struggling to make ends meet.

We can’t go on like this. Our members deserve so much better – and so do their students.

The Association of Colleges (AoC) – the employers representative in England – are keen to increase pay for staff by up to 3.5%, which is a start in making up some of the ground that has been lost since 2009. But they are telling us they can’t afford to do this without money from the Westminster government specifically for staff pay.

The Welsh government has put in £8million to increase pay for staff, and in Scotland ministers have made £14million available for a pay increase. UNISON believes the Westminster government should find money for a decent pay rise for staff in England too.

If this money isn’t forthcoming, the recommendation is a 1% pay increase, or a one-off payment of £250, whichever is greater. But it may be that some colleges won’t even be able to afford this – leaving our members with another year of rising costs and no pay increase.

That’s why we are consulting members in England about their pay. UNISON is recommending that members vote YES for both strike action and action short of strike action. This will help us as we negotiate with employers and the government.



FE pay

  • What happens if people vote to reject the pay offer?

    This is a consultative ballot – it gives us the information we need to decide what to do next. We will not be in a position to ask members to take industrial action after this vote. Instead, if the ballot indicates that members have strong feelings and want to take action, the next step would be to launch a statutory ballot.

  • What happens in a statutory ballot?

    A statutory ballot is a legal requirement if members want to take further action to secure better pay and conditions at work. In this case, the ballot would ask one question, either:

    • would you be prepared to take strike action or;
    • would you be prepared to take action short of strike action?

    Which question we ask depends on the result of the consultative ballot.

  • What is the difference between strike action and action short of strike action?

    Strike action means that a member withdraws their labour (i.e. does not go into the workplace) and consequently will not receive pay for the period that they were on strike.

    Action short of strike action can mean many things, including a work to rule. Many members tell us that they are expected to perform duties that are above and beyond those that they are contractually obliged to perform, including unpaid overtime. Action short of strike action could constitute a refusal to undertake any duty that falls outside the remit of their contract. If members choose this option, UNISON will issue further guidance on how to implement this.

  • Why haven’t I received details about this?

    Sometimes members’ records are not up-to-date on the systems we hold. You will need to check what information we have for you using this link or calling UNISONdirect on 0800 0 857 857.

    You will then be able to update your records with your current email address and to check the box that you are happy to receive email communications from us. We will also send a text message to remind members when voting will close, so please ensure you have given us an up-to-date mobile phone number too.

  • Will I receive ballot papers in the post?

    No. Because this is a consultative ballot there is no requirement for us to send paper ballots. Conducting the vote electronically allows us to ensure that no member votes more than once.

  • I don’t like to use computers. Is there any other way I can vote?

    Yes. You should speak to your college rep, or if there isn’t one then contact your local branch as they are the people best placed to help. If you cannot reach your rep or branch,  call UNISONdirect on 0800 0 857 857 and they will help.

  • Are brand new members eligible to vote?

    Yes, so long as you have applied and registered your details by the 23rd January.