READY TO GO: 96% VOTE FOR ACTION

Congratulations and thanks to all our members at WKC for this fantastic result. All our hard work and commitment has paid off. 15 Further Education colleges have balloted their members over pay and conditions – and all voted overwhelmingly to take strike action in the Autumn term.

  • Capital City College Group (City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway College and College of Northeast London): 96% vote for action – 65% turnout. 
  • South Thames Group (Merton College, Wandsworth and Tooting College, Carshalton College and Kingston College): 75% vote for action – 60% turnout.
  • Lambeth College: 90% vote for action – 65% turnout.
  • Croydon College: 93% vote for action – 71% turnout.
  • City of Liverpool College: 82% vote for action – 64% turnout.
  • New College Swindon: 88% vote for action – 60% turnout.
  • Weymouth College: 89% vote action – 62% turnout.
  • City College Plymouth: 86% vote action – 58% turnout
  • City of Bristol College: 94% vote for action – 70% turnout.
  • Sheffield College: 84% vote for action – 53% turnout.

UCU branches at CCCG and across these 14 other colleges will now agree dates in the Autumn term to begin our campaign of escalating strike action. UCU’s Further Education Committee has also agreed a plan to implement UCU conference motions calling for a national industrial action ballot over pay and workload to begin in the Autumn term.

UCU STRIKE BALLOT OPENS 14 JUNE

You should have received a ballot envelope (similar to this one). It will have been sent to your ‘preferred address’, this may be your work or home address.

You are being asked to consider industrial action – the ballot opened 14th June.

What is the main issue we are voting on?

In your ballot envelope you will received a detailed insert explaining the below 5 points in more detail. But as a summary:

1.      Pay. We deserve a 3.5% pay rise. Since 2009 AoC pay recommendations have fallen 30% behind inflation and on average FE teaching staff are paid £9k less than school teaching staff.

2.      Restructure and Redundancies. We oppose all CR. We oppose cuts in remission hours of lead tutors and hours relating to teaching, learning and pastoral care. 

3.      Teaching, Learning and Assessment Policy. For CCCG to withdraw their current policy and to establish an ungraded observation policy built on peer assessment.

4.      Workloads. To follow Guided Learning Hours, ensure manageable class sizes and employ specialist attendance staff.

5.      Holiday booking agreement. To agree protocols and procedures for booking of staff holidays and use of iTrent

Recording of Wednesday’s meeting

We’ve published the recording of Wednesday’s meeting on Lesson Observations, which was addressed by Matt O’Leary and Martine Ellis. The feedback from staff has been overwhelmingly positive and if you didn’t have a chance to view this thought-provoking and inspiring discussion live, please find the time to watch the recording soon. The link can be found here:

https://web.microsoftstream.com/video/9f080dc2-baa0-46fa-aff7-9dbf58a434ea

13 May: Motion against Restructuring Proposals carried overwhelmingly

“This meeting notes that there are restructures taking place in 4 areas of WKC: Teaching, Learning and Assessment Team, Additional Learning Support, Tutor Learning Mentors and  Music and Performing Arts. The “consultation” process thus far has been inadequate, one-sided and extremely stressful.

We further note that workloads have increased this year and that staff have responded superbly to the challenges of working during the pandemic. Management state we need to “improve Teaching and Learning” whilst they attempt to cut jobs, creating fear and instability.The CEO has stated that we should be “one cohesive team” and yet has chosen to allow these restructures to go ahead.

We call upon management to halt all restructures immediately, give a guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and engage in discussions with UCU to improve working conditions.”

7 May Deadline: Indicative Ballot on Pay

Please don’t forget to vote, if you have not already done so, in the UCU consultative pay ballot, the deadline is Friday 7th May. We need at least a 50% voter turnout.  If you have not so far received a link to vote, please check your spam folder and personal email.  If it still cannot be found please let Regi know asap (regine.pilling@westking.ac.uk).

8th March Return: What’s the Rush?

UCU officers spent Friday afternoon meeting with CCCG senior management, making the case for slowing down the return to face-to-face teaching. Management refused to consider a return after Easter, arguing that they were constrained by government guidelines. 

UCU reps have spent many hours in meetings this week and raised numerous, detailed points relating to safety. Last Thursday’s cross-college cross-union meeting revealed the scale of fear and anger that members are feeling. 

WHAT’S THE RUSH?  

Government guidelines give room for us to make sure that the process of returning is safe and well-organised. 

We are extremely disappointed to have to report that there has been no movement to delay arrangements for those courses scheduled to return on the 8th. What was presented as a “proposal” has not been changed.  In many instances, important details as to how the return will be organised have not been provided so that there are still real concerns about the safety of the 16-18 courses. 

That said, there has been more flexibility in other areas, mainly for Adult provision. We will continue to lobby for safe procedures and delayed starts. Please let your local rep know your concerns. 

Personal Risk Assessments and a safe return to work

What we want

As previously reported, your union reps have been arguing for HR to make a commitment to protect the following groups of staff by allowing them to continue to work remotely until such time as their first vaccination has taken effect:

·       aged 60 or over

·       with a condition that puts you at higher risk (clinically vulnerable)

·       main carers for someone at high risk from coronavirus

Plus, additional consideration for those aged 50+ and people who share a household or caring responsibility with clinically vulnerable people.

Why would a caring employer put their staff at unnecessary risk when a much safer situation (ie post 1st vaccine) is in clear sight?  By the time we get to after the Easter break then most of these groups will have already had their first jab and, IF Johnson’s road map goes to plan, then our reduced ‘world’ will be a slightly safer place.

NB:  If you fall into one of the above groups, you may use the link below to get a vaccine appointment.  This can be an alternative to waiting for the notification from your GP.  It is possible that this link might not automatically work for some clinically vulnerable people, but we are reliably informed that this link is also working NOW for the next vaccination group – ie those aged 55+. Book a coronavirus vaccination

What HR say

HR have said they will NOT be taking a ‘blanket approach’.  Anyone who has any concerns should raise them with their Line Manager.  If appropriate mitigation arrangements cannot be agreed with LM then these concerns will be passed up to the local HR Business Partner (for WKC, this is Ollia Alexis).

What happens next

We urge you to complete the new Risk Assessment form.  Log all your concerns on the form (in the Discussions box).  Complete again and resubmit the form if your concerns have ‘changed’.

Ask (on the form) to be allowed to remain working from home until your first vaccine takes effect – or whatever your own conditions for return to work might be.

Do not agree to anything you don’t want to agree with.

We also advise members to consider doing an online risk assessment if they have reason to believe:

  1. Their rooms or work patterns have been changed since they last completed a risk assessment
  2. Their personal circumstances have changed (and also including for example circumstances of partners or other family members who are shielding. Remember that the list of those shielding has been increased).  
  3. They have been asked to come in when they are not required for face-to-face interactions. 

If you complete a risk assessment, you should not return to the building until your manager has responded to it. If there is disagreement, you should contact HR and your local UCU rep.

 Those who are CEV are not required to return before 29 March at the earliest.

Support not Monitoring: No to OFSTED visit.

Please sign this petition and circulate to colleagues in your departments.

https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/support-not-monitoring-no-to-ofsted-visit-cccg

Support not monitoring: No to OFSTED visit.

Staff at Capital City College Group (CCCG) are shocked and appalled at the announcement of an Ofsted monitoring visit.

Teaching staff across CCCG have moved mountains to ensure that our students continue to receive the education they deserve.  At a time when many are looking after their children through home schooling and taking care of sick members of their families, staff are doing all they can to meet the needs of their students.

Despite putting their physical and mental health at risk they have continued to go the extra mile to help their students reach their goals.

Ofsted must realise the anxiety and stress that ​their visits have on all staff in the sector in normal times. To announce an inspection in the midst of a pandemic that has so far claimed over 120,000 lives demonstrates either how out of touch Ofsted has become or​ that the organisation does not care about the wellbeing of staff and students.

The educational value of such a visit is very dubious. The idea that an inspection, whilst all teaching has moved online, can measure the development of teaching and learning at the college since the last inspection, made when full face-to-face teaching was taking place, will hold no credibility.

This visit, rather than help our struggling students and communities, ​will only serve to deepen the cynicism of those working within the sector towards Ofsted.  

There are many other ways for Ofsted to provide support and advice in the middle of a public health crisis rather than through a miss-timed inspection to crudely measure the progress of a college.

We call upon Ofsted to pause all inspections until we are back in September 2021.

To sign the petition, click here