Report of Further Education Committee – 28th June 2013
FEC met for a half day meeting on this occasion.
1. Spending Review
George Osborne announced more cuts Further Education funding of £260 million in 2015/16. This will no doubt mean a continued assault on our pay and terms and conditions and will further limit the sector’s ability to help the 1 million 16-24 year old who are without education , training or work.
Osborne also made a thinly veiled racist attack on ESOL students. Have a look at the report (attached) from Mandy Brown of Action for ESOL.
2. Pay Campaign
Your National Negotiators met again with the AoC on Tuesday 25th June to discuss this year’s pay award. At the previous meeting the AoC had withdrawn its offer of 0.5% because unions refused to sign a statement that included agreeing to talks on freezing incremental progression.
The AoC did return to the table with a revised offer on 25th. They agreed to take out the freezing of incremental pay and raised the offer to 0.6% with a £280 underpinning (The living Wage) for the lowest paid in the sector.
Although unions welcomed the underpinning for the lowest paid, they rejected the offer. The AoC then returned with an increased offer of 0.7% but only on condition that we agreed to recommend the offer and the statement (see below) that went with it.
FEC rejected the offer. As inflation stands at 2.7% this would be another significant cut in our members’ pay packets.
THE FEC debated the next steps on how to implement the Westminster Kingsway motion that had been passed unanimously at sector conference calling on the FEC to organise a ballot for industrial action as early as possible in October.
Unfortunately the FEC once again voted to delay the preparation for this ballot until the next FEC, which meets at the beginning of October, and instead to consult branches as to whether they agree with the FEC’s decision to reject.
There is concern amongst a minority on the FEC that the sovereign body of the union and its democratically arrived at decisions are, once again, being undermined.
The motion at conference could not have been clearer. It did not call for a consultation of branches over pay. It called for a national ballot on industrial action if, as was expected at the time, an unsatisfactory offer was made.
This is a repeat of what happened last year. Branches were asked for their opinion on the deal without any campaigning or recommendation put to the branches from the FEC.
Although there is agreement amongst FEC members that this is an insulting offer there is not agreement over whether we should strike over it. Although no one on the FEC who supported the consultation exercise actually voiced this, it was quite clear that they believe members do not want to fight over pay and that local issues should take precedence over a national pay campaign.
Those who opposed this lack of action and commitment argued, again in line with congress policy, that a national pay campaign would not weaken our members’ fights to defend their local jobs and terms and conditions. In fact, a national pay campaign in which UCU could link up with schoolteachers will strengthen our local campaigns. As was argued in the recent annual sector conference, ‘We can’t beat this government college by college… we need national action’.
A large minority of FEC members argued strongly for a national pay campaign to start now with a recommendation from the FEC to go to branches not only to clearly reject the offer but also to support national action.
Branches should meet between now and early October to prepare for the ballot in October. Branches are to be supplied with flyers, stickers and visits from NEC members .
This strategy however was rejected in favour of another branch consultation process.
There should be a recommendation that goes to branches recommending rejection and for industrial action in pursuit of our claim.
3. Local disputes
There are a number of important local disputes at the moment. If your branch has not sent a message of support please do asap.
Grimsby College branch was due to strike on Tuesday 2 July in an on-going row over job losses and cuts to staff pay and conditions.
Lambeth College is facing compulsory redundancies – 97 posts affected and 42 FTEs – plus the biggest funding cut in the college’s history. £3m has been cut already and this figure could be higher when the impact of the 24+loans takes effect in September.
Please send messages of support to Branch secretary Mandy Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Members took action on 4th July.
LeSoCo (formerly Lewisham College inc Southwark College) are currently going through a restructure where management have refused to give a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies. At least 28 FTE posts are to be cut and over 80 staff are at risk.
Though there have been some requests for voluntary redundancy accepted, there is still a compulsory redundancy risk. In addition two departments (Science & Floristry) are at risk of outright closure. Access provision is also seriously under threat, and there is still to be a restructuring of the Learner Services teams to come. They are therefore balloting for industrial action (ballot closes Friday 5th July) and campaigning against the course closures. Messages of support to Pete Bicknell email@example.com
Croydon College: Struck recently over jobs and cuts. Send messages of support to firstname.lastname@example.org
Chesterfield College has come under fire for sending out redundancy notices to staff on the day it was revealed that the college is investing huge sums of money in refurbishing its buildings. http://www.ucu.org.uk/6694 – Chesterfield College release
In higher education this week, a reminder to all members, please make sure your name has been added to the petition to support Liverpool University UCU, fighting to defend 2803 staff from having their contracts forcibly worsened: