FURTHER EDUCATION UNIONS REJECT COLLEGE ASSOCIATION’S 2.25% WAGE OFFER – FE News

The mixed unions (UCU, NEU, UNISON, UNITE, GMB) met with the Association of Colleges (AOC) for a negotiation meeting on Thursday 26 May.

At this meeting, AOC informed union negotiators that it would recommend a wage offer of 2.25% for the year 2022/23. The offer is non-binding, which means that individual colleges are not bound to implement it.

This meeting took place against the backdrop of more than a decade of real pay cuts for higher education staff, which has seen salaries fall by more than 35% in line with inflation since 2009. During an unprecedented cost of living crisis, and with inflation currently at a 40 year high and set to rise further, this offer is insulting. The employing body opted not to use significant increases in core central government funding 16-19 to invest in college staff, despite unions campaigning alongside the AOC to get it.

In March, the unions jointly submitted a demand for a 10% pay rise on all points with a minimum raise of £2,000, with all colleges to become approved Foundation employers and a significant move towards agreements on workload in colleges.

In addition to failing to address union wage demands, the AOC refused to commit to having all colleges become living wage employers and, on workload, only offered to create a task force to investigate further.

None of the measures proposed by the AOC will solve the college workforce crisis, which the employing body itself describes as the “worst in two decades”. Today’s failure to make an offer that will properly raise wages and address unmanageable workloads could now make this crisis even worse.

The unions unequivocally rejected the AOC’s offer and informed the employers’ organization that they planned to take the ballot.

AOC was encouraged to return with a much improved offer to ensure college staff were not forced into industrial action this fall term. The unions agree that they will continue to engage in negotiations while developing action plans.

A joint statement endorsed by the five FE unions, 26 May 2022.

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Andrew B. Reiter