Local college lecturers strike over low pay

Local college lecturers today (26 September) joined a nationwide “cost of living” strike.

They picketed Lambeth College’s Clapham campus with placards and a megaphone. demanding an immediate 10% pay increase.

The University and College Union (UCU) said about 4,000 staff at 29 colleges will take up to 10 days of strike action from today in the dispute over low pay.

Staff at 19 colleges were on strike today, with a further 10 colleges striking next week.

The strikes come after 89.9% of UCU members taking part voted for strike action on an overall turnout of 57.9% in July.

The level of industrial action being undertaken is unprecedented, the union said.

Strikes will take place over four weeks in the first half term of the academic year.

UCU is demanding employers increase pay to reflect the soaring costs college staff face.

Since 2009, pay in further education has fallen behind inflation by 35% and the pay gap between school and college teachers stands at around £9,000 a year. 

Unqualified college teachers can earn as little as £21,000 a year. Qualified teachers earn as little as £26,000.

Further education employers plan said in June they would raise lecturers’ pay by 2.5%. Retail price index inflation is now at 12.3%. 

UCU has produced a report showing the vast majority of college staff are financially insecure, impacting the mental health of more than eight in 10, with many being forced to skip meals and restrict hot water use to save money. 

Seven in 10 said they will leave the sector unless pay and working conditions improve.

UCU is also balloting staff at 150 universities over low pay.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said lecturers are being “pushed into poverty” by college bosses.