2022-23 Pay Campaign next steps 

Part of our agreement to end our strike last Autumn was on the basis that our there would be meaningful negotiations over a consolidated pay rise after the Easter break. These have started.  

UCU members have been balloted nationally to see if they are willing to take part in industrial action to pursue this year’s 10% claim. Around 50 branches will be moving to an Industrial action ballot in preparation of taking action in the new academic year. 

UCU CCCG agreed not to be a part of this national ballot because we want to give negotiations at CCCG a chance to succeed. Whilst we are fully committed to making these negotiations a success, we are calling upon you to make clear in UCU’s pay consultative survey ballot if you agree to take part in industrial action in the next academic year if management fail to offer a real pay award and instead impose another pay cut. 

All of the above will be discussed at branch meetings across the group. Please do all you can to attend and have your say.

NEW YEAR MESSAGE OF THANKS AND CONGRATULATIONS TO UCU MEMBERS

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

IN UNITY LIES STRENGTH – STRIKES SHOW THAT WE CAN WIN

This week UCU members across CCCG met and voted overwhelmingly to support the offer recommended by UCU officers. Every member should be proud of the action they took in defence of education and for professional respect.

After ten days of solid strike action and notice to take six more, management have agreed a new Teaching and Learning policy at CCCG. Management had imposed an open classrooms model that allowed lecturers to be observed, “Anytime, Any classroom, Any manager’’. The policy also linked observation performance to the capability policy, allowing staff to be fast-tracked out of the college.  The new agreed policy will see staff having three 15/20-minute classroom visits a year with notification, which are ungraded and have no link to the capability policy.  

The strike action also succeeded in levelling pay and holidays across the group. It has been agreed that lecturers at CONEL, in line with other colleges in the group, will be put on London weighting (worth £1,700) and that these staff members will also be moved onto the CCCG contract, which is worth an extra £1,500 plus three days extra holiday entitlement. 

UCU were not successful in winning a consolidated pay rise but did win a £700 one-off payment to be put in the December pay packet for all staff (including business support staff not in UCU).  UCU accepted this on the basis that fresh negotiations on a consolidated pay rise would begin after the Easter holiday for the 2022/3 pay award. It was also agreed to open further negotiations over LSA and HPL conditions and contracts. 

Workload was the third issue that members struck over. A number of new important management protocols that they must implement were agreed. This includes the implementation of a new automated system that automatically contacts students that are absent from lessons, thereby negating the need for staff to contact those students/parents after every lesson and record them. A new working group with UCU was also agreed to look at further ways to reduce workload. 

Over forty new staff have joined UCU across the group since the beginning of the dispute and only two have left due to dissatisfaction.  UCU now has a 91% density amongst teaching staff, which puts staff in a very strong position to continue to defend and secure better working and learning conditions for staff and students. 

A strike made by management.

This strike should have never happened in the first place. It was caused by the intransigence of management, who thought they could force through the imposed TLAD in the face of deep opposition among staff. It was management who consciously did nothing to try and prevent the strike from taking place, believing that it would collapse after a couple of days. But what they did not calculate was our members’ determination to stop this punitive policy.

There were a number of opportunities to negotiate a policy with UCU /NEU that all staff could have celebrated. Discussions took place in January last year. But UCU proposals were completely ignored. The ballot result in July, showing 96% in favour of strike action, provided another opportunity to meet with UCU/NEU representatives. But once again management failed to grasp this opportunity and instead wanted to test our resolve. The CEO put out an ill-judged letter to all staff in September stating, “you need to understand that no amount of strike action will change our position on pay or classroom visits”.

After the first 5 days of strike action, management eventually decided to meet. But again, they failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation or recognise that the strike was gaining momentum and not petering out. It took threats of more action alongside the NEU for management to eventually realise that they could not break the spirt of staff. UCU did not want this dispute and did all we could to resolve the issues without resorting to strike action. The disruption caused to our students’ education lay firmly at the feet of the senior management team.

Moving forward

UCU hopes that no further attempts will be made to bulldoze polices through while ignoring staff concerns. It is not the way forward if we wish to rebuild what we once had, a group of colleges that staff were proud to work in and that people sought to come to. 

But staff will not easily forget the way senior management attempted to turn their students against them. We will now need a period of healing and reconciliation. But this can’t happen until senior management acknowledge the deep resentment that lay behind the mass support for the strike. There is growing discontent over the treatment of teaching staff and also over the manner in which line mangers are addressed when in meetings with senior management.

UCU will do it all it can to help move the staff/management relations forward. However, the events of the last few months have shown that senior managers must do a lot more if we are to avoid further disputes. UCU looks forward to working with our senior colleagues to ensure that we do all we can to avoid this.

UCU would like to thank all staff who struck, joined picket lines, attended protests and played a role in achieving so much. We did not achieve everything we wanted but every member of staff came out of the strike with more than they started, with a TLADP which is significantly better and a union in a considerably stronger position to fight the battles ahead.

In unity lies strength.

UCU MEMBERS AT UCL DONATE £3000 TO OUR STRIKE HARDSHIP FUND

In a fantastic display of solidarity, UCU members at University College London voted today to donate £3000 from branch funds to our CCCG hardship fund. Strikers heard about the news via a live Zoom link-up at our mass meeting at lunchtime. The decision was greeted by a huge roar of approval and appreciation from all present at the meeting. We may be called upon to reciprocate in providing solidarity to our colleagues at UCL when they start their own industrial action shortly. For an update on our negotiations with management today see the Strike News page.

Members at CCCG react in delight to hearing the news of UCL’s donation

We’re grateful to Shaun Drey at Reel News for putting together this excellent short film about our strike. Please watch and then pass on the details to friends, families, contacts and fellow trade unionists. It deserves to be shared and seen widely.

NEU JOIN UCU IN RAMPING UP PRESSURE ON OBSERVATION POLICY

NEU members at Islington 6th form Centre have decided to stand alongside their UCU colleagues by balloting for strike action over the hated lesson observation policy imposed by CCCG management. NEU branch Sec, Pippa Dowswell, explained why all teachers are so opposed to ‘Any time, Any class, Any manager’ at a UCU rally today:

UCU STRIKE CONTINUES THIS WEEK

UCU officers met with CCCG management on Thursday 7 Oct and this morning, Monday 11 Oct, in order to negotiate an end to the dispute over our three-part claim. The talks this morning did not manage to find a way to end the dispute (more details to follow) despite some movement being made on Thurs. Our five days of strike action will therefore continue on Monday 11 October as planned. We have made clear UCU are willing to meet any place and at any time to resolve this dispute. The following events are planned for this week. More details will follow.

Spectacular Solidarity at Strikes Rally

In a spectacular show of solidarity, several hundred strikers from CCCG were joined in noisy protest by trade unionists from the Fire Brigade, University College Hospital, Camden Council and by arrange of speakers including Michelline Safi-Ngongo from Islington Council, John McDonnell (former shadow Chancellor) and UCU General Secretary, Jo Grady.

Earlier in the morning, Jo Grady, UCU Gen Sec, visited pickets at the Soho Centre, where there is a complete shutdown of all teaching.

Support the FE Strikes Solidarity Rally 12pm, Weds 6 October

Called by City & Islington College UCU, Westminster Kingsway College UCU, College of North East London UCU, Croydon College UCU, Lambeth College UCU, Liverpool City College UCU, University of Liverpool UCU and London Region UCU.

This joint rally has been called to support the fight over pay in FE and to celebrate the success of the fight over jobs at the University of Liverpool. Speakers include activists from striking FE branches, Liverpool University UCU, Jeremy Corbyn MP, John McDonnell MP and Jo Grady, UCU Gen Sec.

Solidarity with FE strikes

This week we begin our second week of strike action over pay and conditions. Lecturers in FE colleges have seen their pay cut by 30% in the last decade and 24,000 posts deleted. Government and employers offer praise for the sacrifices that FE lecturers made during the pandemic for continuing to provide an education to their students but reward them with pay cuts, increase workloads and more managerialism. Enough is enough!

Celebrate victory at the University of Liverpool

The University of Liverpool UCU has achieved a complete victory in its fight over jobs. Last week management finally withdrew the last two of 47 threatened compulsory redundancies. No-one has been made redundant under the University’s ‘Project Shape’ shakeup of the university’s Faculty of Health and Life Sciences. This remarkable result has come after nearly five months of official industrial action of strikes and a marking boycott.

As the fight at the University of Liverpool comes to an end, other UCU branches are moving into struggle. In Liverpool, the City of Liverpool College UCU branch is fighting this week over pay, along with other branches in the FE sector.

Please join us in Liverpool or online (the zoom link has been sent to UCU members) to celebrate Liverpool’s proud fighting tradition.