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Five North East colleges announce new strike days over low pay

Some of the colleges that have announced industrial action <i>(Image: GOOGLE MAPS)</i>
Some of the colleges that have announced industrial action (Image: GOOGLE MAPS)

Five North East colleges are having three days of strikes over a dispute about low pay.

The University and College Union has organised three rounds of strikes starting on December 13.

Teachers will be going on strike at Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training Group, 
Redcar and Cleveland College, Stockton Riverside College and The Skills Academy.

The further strikes will be going ahead on January 9 and January 10, 2024.

Jo Grady, UCU general secretary, said: ''The employer is unwilling to put any offer on the table or negotiate in good faith, preferring instead to escalate the dispute.

"Our members are left with no option other than to take further strike action.

"UCU once again calls on the employer to enter into negotiation and resolve this in the best interests of all parties and prevent further disruption to the colleges."

This comes after negotiations with staff failed to progress after three strike days earlier this month.

At the start of the year, UCU members rejected an offer of three per cent for 2022/23 and rejected a further offer of four per cent.

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A UCU spokesperson claims that the Education Training Collective (ETC) has over £4m in the bank and in 2022 its principal was paid over £300k.

Since strike action began the ETC has been provided with unexpected local funding which the union think should be used to end the dispute.

A spokesperson for the ETC said: "While we are disappointed by the further strike action called by the University College Union, our priority continues to be to minimise any potential disruption caused to our learners. Here at the Education Training Collective, we are, of course, sympathetic to the undisputable impact the current cost of living is having on our staff, as for a great many people up and down the country.

"It is with this in mind, we have been working with unions, for some time, to settle on a 2022/23 pay award that offers the best possible outcome for staff, while sustaining the financial health of the organisation.  Unfortunately, to date, we have not been able to find a mutually agreeable solution on our pay offer of 3% from 1st August 2022, which was then increased by an additional 1% from May 2023. This was higher than the Association of Colleges’ recommendation.

"A further pay offer has already been tabled for 2023/24 which, in line with Association of Colleges’ guidance, passes on, in full, the additional funding outlined by the Department for Education to our staff members. That offer is a 6.5% across the board pay increase, implemented from 1st October2023."