A demand for 6% pay increase from England’s further education staff!

The exclamation mark is there to hide the mouthful of a title, by the way.

Yes, it’s still below the real rate of inflation, as we all know (food and energy costs up by double digits on last year), but it’ll make people think.

The six trade unions – ACM, ATL, GMB, UCU, UNISON and UNITE – representing 250,000 further education staff yesterday submitted a pay claim for six per cent or £1,500, whichever is the greater.

The catch-up claim covers Further Education (FE) workers in England including lecturers, learning support staff, cleaners, managers, caterers, librarians, security and lab technicians, and would establish a £7.38 an hour minimum wage.

The joint unions’ statement said: ‘Last year many FE staff faced a double whammy when they were awarded a below inflation pay deal, which some colleges then failed to implement.’

Barry Lovejoy, Joint Trade Union Side Secretary from UCU, said: ‘We want a better deal for FE staff which matches the rise in prices and the contribution members make to our colleges.

‘The recommended award this year was well below inflation and an effective pay cut for staff.
‘This claim seeks to make up the shortfall.’

Christine Lewis, Joint Trade Union Side Secretary and UNISON National Officer, added: ‘College staff are part of a community of public service workers who are entitled to a fair pay deal and they are determined to get one.

‘Further Education is the driver for the government’s skills agenda which is impossible to deliver if you have a low paid, demoralised workforce.’

The employer’s body, the Association of Colleges (AOC), makes a recommendation to individual FE colleges on pay.

In the past there have been problems because a significant number of colleges have chosen not to implement the agreed pay recommendation. Some even failed to offer any annual increase.

The News Line

Also on education, this from The Socialist:

No more school closures!

EDUCATION IS under attack. 30,000 children could lose their rural schools in the first stage of the government’s new closure plans. Campaigners are worried that more than a thousand small schools in England and Wales could in the longer term be threatened with closing.
This is one of the ruinous effects of the ‘market’ on education. In cities and towns as well as villages, every time a school’s number of pupils goes below a certain level, many local councils talk of closure. Whatever happened to Labour’s supposed commitment to smaller class sizes? Why not use the opportunity of declining school rolls to bring down the size of classes?
Socialist Party members Jim Reekie and Jake Moore report on the angry response in Shropshire to these threats.

ON 23 January, Shropshire’s local authority announced plans to close 22 rural primary schools with another 16 earmarked for merger. Many individual school campaigns are already underway against these attacks.

They will demonstrate together outside the council’s offices before the councillors’ cabinet meeting.

The county council claims that all those schools in Shropshire with 92 pupils or more would be deemed ‘viable’.

Local Tory councillor Ann Hartley claimed that other schools would close, based upon falling pupil numbers and that this was the “only option”.

But these are village schools that have been there for years, serve the local community and many are in fact over-subscribed.

These plans will further undermine communities, some of which have already lost local post offices and hospitals.

Days after the county council’s decision, Shropshire Socialist Party was out campaigning and petitioning against these planned attacks. Our petition against this market-style madness struck a chord with Saturday shoppers.

The mood was one of outrage that schools would be closing because of a lack of funding. One worried parent summed it up appropriately: “The three main parties are now all the same. They’re all happy to spend billions on wars, then there’s no money for our services such as education and hospitals.”

A united campaign must now be built across the 22 affected schools and beyond. With the correct strategy in opposition there is potential to take on the government’s local and national plans to cut education further.

We also argued the need for a new workers’ party that would stand for public services and against cuts, closures and privatisation.

These school campaigns, alongside those against cuts and privatisation in other public services, can help play a role in forging a new mass worker’s party in the future.

  • No to these school cuts, closures or mergers.
  • Reduce the size of school classes, not the number of schools.
  • Kick the market out of education.
  • For a united campaign of teachers, parents, pupils, trade unionists and community activists to defeat these plans.
  • For a new mass workers’ party that stands for public services and against privatisation.
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