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Further Education workers demand a decent pay rise

Joint unions submit claim for £1 an hour pay rise and the living wage as a minimum in England

Further education workers in England are calling for a pay rise of £1 an hour, together with a minimum rate in line with the living wage, in this year’s pay claim submitted by the joint unions today.

The living wage, which is calculated by the Living Wage Foundation, is currently £8.25 an hour outside London and £9.40 in London. The pay claim calls on colleges to seek accreditation with the Living Wage Foundation.

The unions do not recognise the new statutory ‘national living wage’, which is just a rebranded minimum wage for workers over 25.

To coincide with the claim, UNISON has published a survey of college staff showing that:

  • 80% of those answering had seen their household income stay the same or shrink;
  • 77% had seen their living costs increase over the same period;
  • 60% said they were “concerned” about their finances;
  • 62% said that they had debts of up to £20,000, not counting mortgages;
  • 82% reported that staff morale had worsened.

Nearly nearly two-thirds of staff report taking on extra duties due to staff redundancies or other cuts.

But at the same time, they say that they have had to reduce their spending, take on debt, look for second jobs and – in two cases – turn to a food bank to cope.

The employers’ organisation, the Association of Colleges, offered no pay rise last year, which led to industrial action in the sector.

“Last year’s recommendation was an insult to all our hardworking college staff,” UNISON head of education Jon Richards said today.

“They see their workloads increasing, yet get no reward while managers help themselves. All we are asking for is fair pay for college staff.”

The full joint union claim calls for:

  • an increase of £1 an hour for all staff;
  • all colleges to ensure fair pay for women by conducting equal pay audits or reviewing any existing audits, identifying any gender pay gap and agreeing an action plan with the unions locally to address any gaps;
  • hourly paid, temporary, fixed-term or casual staff working in a college for more than two years to be offered a permanent post on a pro-rata basis that is commensurate with the hours they actually work;
  • starting rates to be no lower than the Living Wage Foundation rates, increased annually, and colleges to work to become accredited with the Living Wage Foundation.
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