As infection rates soar to record highs and the government response is predictably inadequate, we would like to offer our condolences to all those who have lost loved ones this year and hope you find time over the holidays to remember those you have lost. 

We also believe it is important to take stock and congratulate ourselves on what we have achieved this year. Undoubtedly this has been one of the most challenging years in the history of Further Education. 

We have risen to these challenges to ensure that the students and the communities we serve continued to receive the best educational experience as possible, whether online or face to face.

We should congratulate ourselves on making the sacrifice to take ten days of strike action to protect our students’ and staff teaching and learning conditions. It was unfortunate that we had to do so but we were right to do so. Sometimes it takes our collective will to prevent management from introducing measures that place barriers to achieving the best for students and staff. 

Professional Respect 

The underlying cause of our strike action was the lack of professional respect. Unfortunately, it seems that management are still out of touch with the mood of staff. Apart from the longest strike in CCCG history, which is the best indicator of mood, the management surveys show how low morale is. It doesn’t matter how many times we are surveyed, how many questions there are or how many different ways the questions are posed, the same results come back. Staff do not feel they are listened to or treated as professionals. 

Our strike made important steps towards addressing the lack of professional respect. We now have a lesson observation policy (TLADP) that prevents the constant surveillance enshrined in the original policy and have a set of working protocols which, if implemented, will make a difference to people’s working lives. 

On pay we still have some way to go in gaining an adequate pay award. It is positive news that the group’s financial deficit has been eliminated and that we are better off than we thought we might have been due to the fact that the claw back of £5 million did not materialise.  UCU looks forward to the reopening of negotiations on pay after the Easter holidays. UCU also looks forward to negotiations over LSA and HPL contracts to ensure that they too get the professional respect they deserve. 

Yes, it has been a difficult year, but we did all we could to ensure our students were given the best possible chance to achieve. 

UCU hope 2022 will not be a year where once again we are called upon to demonstrate our collective will to gain our professional respect.  We look forward to a more positive and constructive relationship with the senior management team in the New Year.  

Hope everyone has a great holiday

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