Two Midland colleges may be brought to a standstill this month after teachers and lecturers voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over a failure to award staff a pay deal agreed four years ago.
Eleven colleges across the country, including Sandwell College and Evesham in Worcestershire, will be hit by the walkout, which is scheduled for the end of January or early February.
The University and College Union announced that 69 per cent of members who responded to the ballot voted in favour of strike action, with nearly 87 per cent supporting action short of a strike. The union said all 11 colleges had steadfastedly refused to honour a ground-breaking national pay deal for teachers in further education, which was agreed in 2004. The deal meant a mid-ranking lecturer would now earn £4,511 more a year.
UCU’s head of further education, Barry Lovejoy, said: “This vote clearly reflects the strength of feeling among our members, whose patience has finally run out after waiting four years for a promised pay rise.
“We have been very reasonable by making it clear that we are willing to take into account local circumstances and agree ways to implement the plans. Flexible agreements have been made on the pay scales at a host of other colleges with serious financial difficulties.
“Nobody involved with any of the colleges wants to see industrial disruption and hope it can still be avoided. The colleges just need to show their commitment to negotiating the pay rises. Colleges have to understand that they will no longer be allowed to pay staff significantly below agreed national rates.”
The precise date for strike action will be announced next week.