Lecturers in England vote for strike, joining the 24 April public sector walk-out

From the UCU website:

College lecturers in England have voted to strike on Thursday 24 April in support of a demand to bring their pay up to that of schoolteachers.

Lecturers in over 250 colleges were balloted by UCU. The result shows solid support for industrial action: 65.5% of those voting* supported strike action and 86.2% also supported other forms of industrial action short of a strike.

UCU, with other FE unions, submitted a joint pay claim for a 6% increase or £1500, whichever is the greater, for 2008-9. FE unions will meet employers on 1 May.

Thousands of FE lecturers, including large numbers who are part-time and hourly paid, can’t reach the higher pay levels enjoyed by schoolteachers. And no FE lecturers get the allowances enjoyed by 50% of schoolteachers worth between £2,364 to £11,557 p.a. on top of the pay scales

Growing workload are also a major concern. As well as teaching, lecturers carry out course development, lesson preparation, marking, professional development and administration. A quarter of lecturers already teach more than 850 hours a year, jeopardising quality in UCU’s view. The lecturers want negotiations on common conditions of service across all colleges.

A major independent study, soon to be published by UCU, reveals high levels of staff dissatisfaction and low morale throughout colleges in England, a serious challenge to both employers and the government.

Members of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), who teach in schools, are also striking on Thursday 24 April over a separate pay claim.

In both schools and colleges, many teaching professionals believe their employers are ignoring their professional status and serving business interests at the expense of community needs. NUT and UCU and the National Union of Students, NUS recently launched a joint campaign ‘Our schools, our colleges, our communities’ to draw attention to threats to the quality of local, public education from college marketisation, ‘city academies’ and cuts in public services.

On Thursday 24 April, the two unions are likely to hold joint events in many locations.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of UCU, said: ‘College lecturers feel undervalued, despite their successes, which the government has recognised.

‘The considerable difference in the average pay of lecturers and teachers doing the same work is grossly unfair.

‘It is more than four years since FE employers agreed to move lecturers to the same length pay scales as school teachers but 47% of colleges still haven’t done that. The treatment of FE staff is a scandal. Pay has been further eroded by below-inflation pay awards.

‘Further education is central to the government’s plans for reskilling the nation but colleges must also serve their communities, not simply be factories for qualifications. Lecturers are delivering. Now college employers must tackle the deep dissatisfaction amongst their staff.’

* About 27,500 UCU members were balloted across 257 colleges. The turnout was 38.6%


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