Strike ballot to begin for Chichester, Crawley and Brinsbury Colleges

Chichester CollegeChichester College
Chichester College
Chichester College Group, which runs Crawley College and Brinsbury College, is set to vote on strike action tomorrow.

Staff at Chichester College Group are being balloted for industrial action by the University and College Union. The union represents teaching and other student supporting staff at a number of campuses including at Chichester, Brinsbury and Crawley.

The announcement comes as the continued cost-of-living crisis is set to worsen in the autumn with energy bills set to rise yet again.

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Recent talks with the employers’ representative body, the Association of Colleges, resulted in a pay offer of 2.5 per cent for 2022/23. Being well below the nine per cent inflation currently stands at, all the education trade unions roundly rejected it.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "The 2.25 per cent pay offer from Association of Colleges is insulting and nothing short of a betrayal of our members. We campaigned alongside employers for greater government funding on the basis that when that funding arrived it would be used to address the low pay that blights further education.

"Thanks to our campaigning, the money from Westminster is now here but the employers' body wants staff to stomach another real term pay cut. Low pay and high inflation are pushing our members into poverty and driving a workforce crisis.”

Pay in FE has particularly affected after a decade of pay restraint that has seen wages in real terms fall behind inflation by 35 per cent since 2009. A number of colleges, like many other public sector employers, are now referring their own staff to food banks to help them make ends meet. The gap between pay in secondary education and those working in further education is now as much as £9,000 per year.

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A consultative ballot held earlier in the year asked staff at Chichester College Group if they would be willing to take action for better pay. That ballot saw a 91 per cent yes vote with 60 per cent of eligible voters taking part, a result which if replicated could see strike action in the first weeks of the new academic year.

The vote starts tomorrow, June 14, and will run until July 15. The union will need at least a 50 per cent turnout for any result to be valid.