19 OCT: WHERE WE CURRENTLY STAND
At very well attended branch meetings held across the group, members voted overwhelmingly to reject the final offer proposed by management and supported to continue the campaign, including taking more strike action if necessary.
- CONEL UCU voted unanimously to reject and continue the action.
- Camden Rd UCU voted by 96% to reject the offer and continue the action.
- WKC UCU voted unanimously to reject the offer and continue the action.
- CLL UCU voted unanimously to reject the offer and continue the action.
Click here to sign the open letter to the CEO and Chair of the Board of Governors Petition CCCG Staff Open Letter to the CEO and the Chair of Governors
Below are the reasons why members voted to reject the offer and to continue the action.
Management said: ‘We will offer you a one-off payment of £200 (pro rata) for last year plus £400 (pro rata) for this year (to be paid in Dec 2021) plus another £400 (pro rata) to be paid in Dec 2022.’ NB: This would be your total pay award until Sep 2023.
At the beginning of the dispute management offered to harmonise the pay scales instead of offering a pay rise. Whilst UCU did not oppose harmonising the pay scales we argued it should not be as a substitute for a percentage pay rise.
In the negotiations, management finally offered to move from ‘open classrooms’ to a visit every three weeks- all of which are to be recorded on Pro-observe and any one of which could result in interventions involving even more visits.
No other college in London (and we know of no other across the country) has this extreme form of surveillance. It is not proportionate to what is need at CCCG. 86% out of 900 teaching staff are graded as good or outstanding. This means only 14% ‘require improvement’, according to management’s own figures.
Line managers have also made it clear that the proposals are unworkable.
Some areas of agreement were reached around a set of workload protocols. Unfortunately, management refused to discuss the root cause of increased workload, such as cuts in GLH, additional qual aims and attendance chasing.
HPL and LSAs
The update to all staff sent by Roy on Friday afternoon mentions: Review of the HPL salary scale with view to creating more levels over this academic year.
This was not mentioned to us in the negotiating room after the first day. Our demand is for:
• All HPL’s to be placed on the existing Candi HPL variable hours contract ie end zero hrs contracts
• HPL’s to be moved onto an incremental pay scale
The update to all staff sent by Roy on Friday afternoon mentions: Create a supportive academic career pathway for our LSAs over this academic year. We have been asking for this for some time. Our additional demands are for:
• An end to Zero Hours contracts – ALL LSA’s to be offered minimum hrs contracts
• LSA’s to be included in the existing fractionalisation policy
Finally, the CEO in Monday’s second email to all staff attempting to convince members to accept the offer, also had the threat of redundancies attached to it. It is a real disappointment that management seek to manage by fear rather than by agreement. It might be worth remembering what the CEO rightly said, in a response to a FE Week article back in 2019:
The CEO, ‘has repeatedly made statements to the board, to his senior management team and the whole staff group explaining that the pay award has not caused the current financial deficit situation and that this would be a misguided conclusion to draw as your article attempts to steer the reader towards. He cites ‘post-merger immature financial decisions’ as the main causes for the financial instability of the last three years.”
Indeed, this locates the cause of the financial problem and makes clear it is not our fault for asking for a living wage.
13 OCT: UPDATE ON NEGOTIATIONS WITH MANAGEMENT
We met management this morning and some movement was made.
UCU were invited to put our proposals forward. Please read below our detailed negotiating positions (in italics) which we put forward as a way to resolve the dispute.
Management had clearly come to the meeting with ready-made proposals.
On the TLADP management agreed to take out health checks and themed visits. ‘Structured Curriculum reviews’ will replace them. These will be carried out with a week’s notice; to last three days; they include classroom visits and will be carried out once a year in any curriculum area.
UCU welcomed this change on the condition that they are placed in the year planner at the beginning of the year and the feedback and assessment is on a departmental/site basis and not an individual basis.
Management also agreed that the term ‘open classroom’ is not a useful term. They put forward an alternative which was,
‘Teachers, assessors, trainers, and LSAs should expect bi-weekly visits throughout the year’.
Whilst welcoming the move away from the term ‘open classrooms’ UCU made clear that this proposal is not something UCU members would consider as an alternative.
On Pay management offered a one off non-consolidated of £400 pro rata for all staff. UCU negotiators made clear that this would not resolve the dispute over pay. We said our members needed a % consolidated pay rise (see below the Pay section on how UCU believes this could be addressed).
UCU had already made clear that we would recommend acceptance of the harmonisation of pay scales but not at any cost.
UCU explained that if the price of harmonisation of the pay scale meant loss of holiday entitlement and other loss of conditions, because the whole contract has to be harmonised, we would recommend to members not to accept.
We gave management the option to only harmonise the pay scales and not the whole contract they did not agree to this. For them it was the scales and loss of holidays or remain on the legacy contract (ie CIC/Conel contract).
We are meeting management again tomorrow to see if we can make further progress.
Stay strong and united.
Sent Mon 04/10/2021: Message of Support from Councillor Michelline Safi-Ngongo Executive member for children, young people and families, Islington Council
Dear UCU members
Solidarity with your fight for fair pay, manageable workloads and professional respect.
I have visited your college on several occasions and have seen first-hand the vital role you play in educating and training our young people and adults.
Whilst others rightly stayed at home protecting themselves and their families during the pandemic you continued to teach our students. Our communities will never forget the role you have played.
Both government and employers offer warm words of thanks but reward you with pay cuts and job losses. You deserve to be fully rewarded for the work you provide to our communities both in terms of a fair wage and professional respect in work.
I look forward to seeing you on your picket lines.
Councillor Michelline Safi-Ngongo Executive member for children, young people and families, Islington Council.
|Sent: 27 September 2021|
Dear Mr Vernell
Today UCU members at ten English further education colleges will walk out on strike and I send solidarity to those striking today and throughout this current wave: your action is an inspiration to the union movement and to education staff everywhere. Striking is always a last resort for teachers but the college employers’ failure to address declining wages and the pay gap with schools has left UCU members with no choice but to fight back.
Please let our striking colleagues know you have their backs by posting solidarity selfies and messages on social media using #FEstrike and #justiceforcollegeteachers or email direct here. We’re collecting and displaying your posts on our online wall of support here.
College staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, showing a passion and commitment to our students’ education that makes the pay offer of 1% even more of a kick in the teeth. Well now we’re kicking back but the employers can still avoid further disruption. Strike action has just been suspended or cancelled at three colleges who were due to take part, following late pay offers from management. We can win this dispute: the money is there and our demands are reasonable. Please send a message of solidarity to our colleagues on strike and to the employers that an injury to one is an injury to all.
UCU general secretary