College lecturers in strike vote

The Brixton Hill campus of Lambeth College

Lecturers at Lambeth College, which has a centre on Brixton Hill, are among those at 10 colleges around the country being asked to vote on strikes over a 1% pay increase.

They are members of the University and College Union (UCU) which said today that the reason for the ballot is over college bosses’ refusal to make a decent pay offer to their staff.

“The pay gap between college and school teachers currently stands at £9,000 as staff working in further education have suffered real terms pay cuts of over 30% in the past decade,” UCU said.

It said joint campaigning by employers and staff in further education (FE) had won £400m of increased government funding, £224m of which could have been used for staff pay.

UCU wants a pay increase of greater than 5% to start to close the school-college pay gap after more than a decade of below-inflation pay increases in further education.

Union leader Jo Grady said: “Employers have millions more in the bank after government investment, so staff should not have to threaten to strike to be paid fairly.

“Colleges across England need to urgently offer staff a decent pay increase to avoid disruption.

“College staff have seen their pay cut by over 30% in real terms and we are supporting members to vote ‘YES’ in a ballot to take strike action in the autumn.

“Strong, properly funded further education is central to creating a fairer society, and is more important than ever as we come out of the recent pandemic.

“Thriving colleges can help tackle social, economic and regional inequalities, allowing people to upskill and return to education.

“There is plenty of time to resolve these disputes before any student is affected.

“The UK government talks of ‘levelling up’ and ‘building back better’, but if these slogans are going to have any actual substance, we need investment in our colleges and staff.”

Lambeth College was transferred to the South Bank Colleges group in January 2019 after financial problems. London South Bank University set up the group, which includes the university itself; Lambeth College (a wholly owned subsidiary of South Bank Colleges); the University Academy of Engineering South Bank; and South Bank University Technical College in Brixton.