17 December 2015

London Report of the special Further Education Committee meeting on 11th December 2015

UCU prepares for coordinated strike with Unison for 2nd of March.

Defend pay, defend education: Fund FE.

***Mass lobby the AoC Governance conference on the 2nd of March in London****

The further education committee met to consider the next steps in the campaign to defend pay and education on following the strike on November 10th. The positive press exposure as a result of the strike was noted as well as the commitment made by John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor, at the London strike rally to make sure UCU was involved in Labour’s policy formation for FE. He said we deserve a pay rise.

Unison balloting: It was reported that Unison will ballot FE workers in the New Year for an improved pay offer. This will include technicians, managers, library, catering, security and other support staff for an improved pay offer. This is the first rejection of a pay offer by Unison since 2002. They will be recommending to their members to vote for action.

Joint action: The UCU FEC agreed to make preparation to strike alongside Unison and will be proposing the 2nd of March for a joint strike in order to lobby the AoC on that day.

The spending review opens up new possibilities on pay and funding. The lobbies, protests and strikes by UCU have helped to raise the visibility of FE and the funding crisis we are experiencing. Many Principals were surprised that the scale of cuts expected in the comprehensive spending review did not happen.

In this context the financial situation has changed and the circumstances the AOC used to determine their 0% pay freeze recommendation no longer apply. The funding situation is better than expected and the possibility of improving the funding landscape can be demonstrated. It was reported to FEC that a number of colleges have made offers of 1% or improvements to increments as part of the unions part 2 claims. It is clear that a number of colleges are in a position to make some form of improved pay offer.

We should demand the AOC lift the freeze and jointly campaign with us for more FE funding.

Opposition to mergers and the rationalization of FE. A short report was given at the end of the special meeting on pay on the work the union is doing to organize opposition to mergers. It was noted that London has launched a series of mergers in advance of the Area Reviews.

This included:

· Encouraging branches to campaign to oppose mergers.

· Producing a model letter to encourage branches to lobby MPs.

· Support the defending further and adult Education conference on Saturday March 5th, SOAS, London.

· Calling on UCU’s Strategy and Finance Committee to call a national demonstration in London in defence of further and adult education, in line with UCU Congress policy. We should invite sister unions to join the demonstration.

· Seek to coordinate ballots against attacks to jobs or terms and conditions resulting from mergers and area reviews.

*Many Colleges in London (and elsewhere) will have decided to merge by March with implementation in August 2016.

Your London FEC members:

Mandy Brown, Lambeth College,mandybrowncow@hotmail.com

Margot Hill, Croydon College,margothill@croydon.ac.uk

Richard McEwan, Tower Hamlets College,richmcewan@hotmail.com

Rose Veitch, Hackney Community College,rveitch0@yahoo.co.uk

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