‘Pay up now!’ striking London lecturers demand

3 months ago 40

UCU UNION lecturers at the CONEL (College of North East London) and City and Islington College, Blackstock Road, started eight days of strike action yesterday.

They are fighting for a pay increase to match inflation and a reduction of their heavy workload.
CONEL UCU Chair Chris Anglin said: ‘This college refuses to backdate our pay claim to September 2023 and they are trying to pay only a nine months increase, not 12.
‘This means a pay increase of only four-and-a-half per cent, way under the official inflation rate. This college is one of the few in the country that still refuses to settle a pay claim. Elsewhere, managements have settled claims of up to ten per cent.’
On the picket line at Blackstock Road, UCU Chair Yeter Bilik spoke to News Line on behalf of the picket line, saying: ‘We are on strike over workload and pay. We want fair pay and less workload. I think education is in crisis.
‘Senior management said that SEND (special educational needs and disabilities) is not about students’ needs anymore, it’s about money, like working in a factory, churning out units for profit with one size fits all, which is not targeted to student needs. Management call us at weekends and on holidays, out of college hours for cover.
‘Class-guided learning hours have been reduced and class sizes increased. Many teachers are thinking of leaving and there’s a high turnover of teachers. The use of HPLs (hourly paid lecturers) has increased instead of permanent staff.
‘Management don’t provide cover teachers for staff absences and instead close classes to save money.’
Staff at the Capital City College Group (CCCG), London’s largest further education college group with campuses across London, including in Westminster, Camden and Enfield, have already taken three days of strike action in what began as a national dispute over low pay and poor working conditions.
The UCU has now settled disputes at 60 colleges with pay awards of up to 10%. The union said CCCG is an isolated employer and must look to other colleges and settle the dispute by making an acceptable offer.
UCU general secretary Jo Grady said yesterday: ‘Our members are being forced to take sustained strike action because CCCG would rather see its staff use foodbanks than make an acceptable offer.
‘We have reached deals at 60 colleges, but CCCG is shamefully holding out and refusing to negotiate. It urgently needs to get back to the table, recognise that staff need decent pay, and settle this dispute.’
Grady and UCU president-elect Maxine Looby will join the picket line at Enfield this morning at 9.00am.


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