Thursday, February 04, 2016
FE strike set for 24 February
Members of UNISON and of our sister union for lecturers UCU (the University and Colleges Union) employed in Further Education (FE) in England will be striking for fair pay on Wednesday 24 February.
These workers in a vital public service of particular value to working class people have an unquestionably just cause. Although pay in the economy as a whole is beginning to recover from the impact of the banking crisis, FE workers aren't even being offered the Government's 1% public sector pay norm.
Perhaps because the FE workforce was recently re-categorised (for the purposes of national statistics) as private sector, the employers' side negotiators "offered" a 0% "increase". Of course a 0% "increase" isn't an increase - it's nothing. And an "offer" of nothing isn't an offer - it's an insult.
FE workers are absolutely right to strike against the pay freeze being imposed across the entire sector.
Well not quite the entire sector, at least not everyone in the sector.
Not everyone in the FE sector is suffering from a pay freeze. (http://feweek.co.uk/2015/04/10/threefold-increase-in-200k-plus-principal-posts/) The link is to a report of last year's data on the pay of Principals in FE, who seem to be doing rather better than most of their staff.
The Chief Executive of the employers' body, the Association of Colleges, was prepared to justify the burgeoning pay of the College Principals - it would be nice to hear him speak up in the same way to justify an increase in pay for the FE workers without whom there would be no Principals.
For now, workers in FE need to prepare to strike, UNISON and UCU need to stand together - and UNISON activists in other sectors need to contact local College stewards to offer assistance.
In particular, those of us in local government branches with FE members need to lend a hand now getting the message across to members (and recruiting non-members) and on the day on picket lines (lay branch officials, including shop stewards, have a very legitimate and important role to play supporting our brothers and sisters in FE).
Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.