Deliver on pay pledge call

Unions demand colleges deliver on promise to increase staff pay

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Colleges must deliver on their promise to increase staff pay now the government has provided further education an extra £400m funding, said education unions including Unite, as they launched their pay claim for England, today October 1.

The Association of Colleges, which represents English colleges, had previously said any staff pay increase was contingent on increased government funding.

The unions said it was time for colleges to finally agree a significant pay rise for further education staff and bring contracted staff back in-house.

The pay claim –  submitted by UCU, Unison, NEU, GMB and Unite is calls for a significant move towards the full restoration of college pay levels to where they would be had college pay kept pace with inflation since 2009; the living wage, calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, to be the minimum wage in the sector; all further education colleges in England becoming accredited living wage employers with the Foundation; and all contracted-out services to be brought back in-house with improvements in terms and conditions equal to those already directly employed by the college.

The unions believe the coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on how our further education members have gone above and beyond in providing support to students, the public, and their institutions. Any national Covid recovery plan must have further education at its core. But unless colleges honour their promise to pay staff, it will be impossible to attract and retain the staff colleges need to be able to play their role in the national recovery effort.

But ‘building back better’ must mean paying better if we are to succeed in the government’s ambitions for upskilling and reskilling different workforces in the economy.

Low pay in colleges has left catering, cleaning, security, administrative and technical staff struggling to make ends meet.

“Support staff in further education colleges have suffered a decade of relentless pay cuts,” commented Unite national officer Siobhan Endean.

“College staff deserve a generous pay rise and the government must fund further education if it’s going to meet its aspirations for a highly skilled UK labour force and put flesh on its “levelling up” rhetoric.

“Already there are skill shortages reported across the economy and they must be tackled as a matter of urgency if Britain is to flourish in a post-Brexit, post-pandemic global economy,” added Endean.

By Shaun Noble

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