Staff at five north east England colleges strike over pay

north east England strikeEmployees at five colleges in Cleveland, Redcar and Stockton-on-Tees in north east England have begun strike action in a long-running dispute over pay.

Staff employed by Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training Group, Stockton Riverside College, The Skills Academy, and Redcar and Cleveland College will be on picket lines today (9 January) from 7.30am at Redcar and Cleveland College and tomorrow at Stockton Riverside College.

The workers, who are members of the University and College Union (UCU), previously rejected an offer of 3% for the 22/23 academic year and also voted to reject a further offer of an additional 1%, which they said was only to be paid for three months of that financial year.

Members stated that they are striking after employer body Education Training Collective (ETC)  did not make an improved pay offer in line with their request of 9.5%.

Staff have already taken four days of strike action since November 2023, with ETC responding by offering two wellbeing days.

According to UCU, the additional local funding that ETC has been provided with since the industrial action ballot started should be used to end the dispute.

Jo Grady, general secretary at UCU, said: “Our members are striking because college bosses have the money to pay staff fairly but are refusing to do so. When staff are being paid poverty wages, an extra two wellbeing days simply will not cut it. We are urging management to make a realistic offer and end the disruption.”

A spokesperson for ETC said: “While we continue to be disappointed by the further strike action called by UCU, our priority remains that we minimise any potential disruption caused to our learners at impacted sites. Unfortunately, to date, we have not been able to find a mutually agreeable solution on our pay offer of 3% from 1 August 2022, which was then increased by an additional 1% from May 2023. This was higher than the Association of Colleges’ recommendation.

“For 2023/24, we have already tabled a further offer, 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, and this was implemented, in the interim, for all staff from 1 October 2023.”