WATCH: Wolverhampton College lecturers strike calling for fairer pay

College lecturers in Wolverhampton took to the picket line to call for better pay for dedicated staff.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) on strike outside City of Wolverhampton College in their fight for fair pay
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) on strike outside City of Wolverhampton College in their fight for fair pay

Staff at City of Wolverhampton College's three campuses will strike today and tomorrow calling for fair pay in further education.

The University and College Union (UCU) is asking for a five per cent pay increase or £1,500 – whichever is greater – so colleges can attract and keep their 'committed and experienced staff'.

More than a dozen lecturers and union members stood outside the Paget Road campus on Tuesday morning.

WATCH: Protestors on reasons for strike action

They stated that on average school teachers earn £7,000 more per year than college lecturers.

Similar protests were taking place outside the Bilston Road and Metro One campuses.

Anne O'Sullivan, regional official for UCU for West Midlands, said: "This strike is about fair pay for further education teachers – they have been really poorly served in the last few years in terms of pay increases in comparison with school teachers.

"The situation has become desperate for some of them and there are a lot of part-time workers in further education whose salaries are insufficient for them to be able to support their families.

"That similar for full-time staff too – lecturers are the same as everyone else, they have mortgages, families and financial commitments.

"They are in dire need of an increase.

"They work in some difficult conditions and they are responsible for education young people in areas like Wolverhampton – and they do an absolutely sterling job and deserve to be recognised.

"They are feeling disappointed and let down. At this college, 90 per cent of union members voted to strike – which says it all."

Vicky Howells, who has taught business at the college for nearly 20 years, said: "We are striking because the lack of the college listening to the lecturers' concerns.

"The answer is just no.

"Unless you take any action and stand up up to it, you are just getting walked over.

"We want a fair pay increase and for the Government to bring us in line with school teachers.

"We would like the college to understand the pressure and what staff are going through.

"I love my job and the last thing I ever want to do is affect the students – but it is as we have so many staff leaving."

Dozens of lecturers and union members took part in the strike action outside the college's Paget Road campus on Tuesday

Chris Hill, a photography lecturer at Wolverhampton College, said: "We are looking at trying to get a living wage pay rise for college lecturers.

"On average to our counterparts in schools we are £7,000 down a year.

"We do the same job as school teachers so we want the same pay.

"Hopefully this strike will open up discussions with the college."

Computer games design lecturer Adam Cross said: "I just feel that we are not being respected and as far as I'm aware the principal has not spoken to the union representative.

"I feel like there's a bit of them and us."

Union members on strike today

But the college said that the majority of lecturers at City of Wolverhampton College are 'paid at the top of their pay band' which is in line with the average school teacher salary.

Karen O'Reilly, assistant principal at City of Wolverhampton College, said: "The college understands that the UCU is seeking a substantial increase in pay for all staff as it believes that lecturers in the further education sector earn around £7,000 less than school teachers.

"There is little money in the further education sector to fund pay increases, unlike in schools where the government has funded recent pay rises.

"Whilst the college is supportive of the union trying to obtain better funding for staff in the further education sector, the majority of our lecturers are paid at the top of their pay band - circa £37,000 - which is in line with the average salary of school teachers.

"The college is open as normal and the majority of classes are unaffected, however where staff have opted to strike their classes are either being covered by colleagues, or students have been given work to complete at home or in the college library."

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