Report from Further Education Committee, Friday 27 February
1. 25% cut to Adult Education budget
The Further Education Committee met on Friday 27 February just after the 25% cut to Adult further education budget for the academic year 2015-16 was announced. This is a devastating blow for the Sector and needs a swift response. The AOC has also issued a briefingemphasising the urgency of the situation. A national day of action is now being planned and a national petition launched (http://www.ucu.org.uk/fefunding).
Branches and regions are urged to act swiftly to support action and use the pre-election period to push for local lobbying and protests. UCU left members called for a lobby to take place before parliament closes on March 30th.
London Region met on Saturday 1 March and called for a lobby of Parliament on 18 March followed by a March to Downing Street on 25 March. This will be circulated to all branches.
2. FE pay claim- an extra £1 an hour for all
The FEC endorsed the pay claim for 2015 proposed by the union side joint national committee (JNC) of an extra £1 an hour for all.
This is a progressive claim that advantages the lower paid. The FEC majority also agreed to call a special sector conference on pay for Saturday 18th April to allow branches to discuss strategies for winning the pay claim for 2015 and how to implement the ‘national plus’ pay strategy that allows branches to submit local claims in addition to the extra £1 an hour national claim.
3. Charter for Further and Adult Education
The FEC discussed the need to place the campaign around the FE Charter at the centre of our activities and to use the pre-election period to organise charter launch meetings in as many areas as possible.
The charter contextualises our battles over pay, cuts and working conditions and allows us to link up with our communities to make the case for defence of FE more visible.
Given the AOC response to the Adult funding budget the door is open for branches and regions to push for Charter events. The FEC called for guidance to go out to branches with advice on how to use the charter locally and in regions. Look out for the guidance and the order forms.
4. Disputes and day of action for Barnsley College
Greenwich College is taking action over cuts in contract rights to leave, working hours and conditions. Barnsley College will begin the next round of strikes on 16th March (four days).
The FEC called for a day of action in support of Barnsley on Friday 13th March. Branches are being encouraged to organise collections, invite speakers, organise photo opportunhities, Twitter storms etc to promote support for the strike. Messages of support should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. More on the Barnsley College Dispute can be found here
The College of North West London is continuing its fight for the reinstatement of UCU member Michael Starrs made compulsorily redundant when there are sufficient hours for him to have a full timetable. Further days of strike action are imminent and branches will be encouraged to send messages of support and solidarity to Indro Sen: Indro.Sen@cnwl.ac.uk.
The FEC discussed the latest hike in pension contributions from April and the fact that the employers will be paying increased contributions as well. Employers will use this as a reason to plead poverty and sell cuts.
FEC discussed the importance of the pay campaign as a way of not only addressing the shortfall in members’ incomes but as a means of pushing the debate onto the anti-cuts agenda. If we fight nationally on pay we put it in the context of education funding rather than narrow debates about how each college might cut its shrinking cloth.