Wolverhampton College staff strike over pay
College staff across Wolverhampton are taking to the picket line across three college sites in a dispute over pay.
Workers at Wolverhampton College went on strike yesterday, with further strikes scheduled to take place today and tomorrow.
Members of the University and College Union (UCU) took to the sites to ask for a pay increase for staff. The union is asking for a five per cent increase or £1,500 – whichever is greater – so colleges can attract and keep their "committed and experienced staff".
Regional official for the UCU Anne O'Sullivan said: "We think it was well supported. I was at one site and we had three sites on strike.
"Judging by the Paget Road campus, I think it was well supported and well attended. Nothing I've heard gives me any reason to doubt it."
Ms O'Sullivan also said it was "crucial" to take a stand over pay.
She added: "Our research as a union shows that, on average, SE (secondary education) teachers and lecturers are approximately £7,000 down behind their equivalent in schools.
"They've seen their pay depressed significantly over the last decade.
"It's absolutely crucial that we build some momentum behind a campaign to improve teachers' pay because they are the people who teach the next generation.
"If the teaching staff are not there because the wages have fallen so far behind, then the country will have difficulties in skilling the next generation of workers."
The protestors were expected to gather again today across the college's three sites, with a large-scale protest planned for tomorrow.
Karen O’Reilly, assistant principal, said: "The dispute was originally a national issue about the lack of funding in the sector which has impacted on pay.
"UCU want more parity with school teachers pay – the average that is being quoted is £37,000 per annum.
"The strike continues because the union is seeking a substantial increase in pay for all staff at the College which we simply cannot afford.
"We have made an offer which they believe is unacceptable.
"Most of our lecturers are paid at the top of the pay band earning almost £37,000 per annum already.
"There is little money in the further education sector to fund pay increases, unlike in schools where the government has funded recent pay rises.
"UCU have also asked for consideration to be given to other elements including an additional 5 days’ holidays – our lecturers currently receive 51 days paid holiday.
"Whilst the college is supportive of the union trying to obtain better funding for staff in the further education sector, we have to balance affordability of increasing our pay within the same funding framework and remaining as a going concern."
The college's discussions with UCU continue.
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