Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Battle Lines Drawn over Shrinking Pay Packets: Fe News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Battle Lines Drawn over Shrinking Pay Packets: Fe News

Article excerpt

Unions demand 5 per cent rise for staff 'at breaking point'.

Unions have warned that staff in FE are at "breaking point" as official figures revealed that the salaries of college lecturers have fallen over the past year, even before the effects of inflation were taken into account.

Justifying a pay claim of 5 per cent, the joint submission by the six unions that work in FE said that staff have seen their standard of living eroded by the equivalent of thousands of pounds over the past two years as a result of inflation. Some staff have even seen their pay cut directly, with the average salary in FE falling by Pounds 38 this year, according to the Office for National Statistics.

And this is only the beginning. Lecturers are likely to face even greater pressure on pay as the government's funding cuts begin in earnest: so far, just 3 per cent of the proposed 25 per cent budget reductions have been implemented. At Gateshead College, some staff are being asked to take an Pounds 8,000 pay cut next year, while Sunderland College is also revising job descriptions and pay grades as part of an effort to save Pounds 2.2 million.

According to statistics quoted in the unions' joint pay claim, staff have on average already seen their income fall in real terms by the equivalent of Pounds 3,100 over two years, while the cost of living rose by 9.4 per cent. Even the highest paid teachers received only Pounds 200 in salary increases over the same period.

"Whichever way you look at it, staff working in further education colleges have taken a massive hit to their living standards in the last few years, a situation which for many is reaching breaking point and cannot continue," the unions said.

In the joint claim, produced by the University and College Union, the ATL, the Association of Managers in Education, Unison, Unite and the GMB, the unions called for a 5 per cent increase, with a minimum rise of Pounds 750 for the lowest paid. …

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