The Sheffield College staff vote to strike over pay

Staff at The Sheffield College have voted to strike in a dispute over pay.

By Robert Cumber
Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 1:51 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 1:52 pm

They are among employees from 15 further education colleges across England who voted to take industrial action after the University and College Union (UCU) said 89% per cent of its members backed strike action, on an average turnout of more than 62 per cent.

The union said its members are angry at a one per cent pay offer – though The Sheffied College said it had offered staff 1.5 per cent.

The UCU added that the pay gap between college and school teachers stands at £9,000 as staff working in further education have suffered real-terms pay cuts of more than 30 per cent in the past decade.

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Staff at The Sheffield College have voted in favour of strike action over pay (pic: Google)

It is calling for an increase of at least five per cent in an effort to close the school-college pay gap, adding that employers have until September to meet its demands or they will face strike action.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady branded the pay rise on the table ‘derisory’ and said: "This ballot result is an emphatic message from college staff to principals that they will not sit back while their pay is held down.”

Paul Simpson, executive director, people at The Sheffield College said: “We have offered our staff a 1.5 per cent pay award for 2020/21, which is above the sector average.

“We are not in a position to offer five per cent given the tough financial challenges that the further education sector faces including the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in a £1.4 million income shortfall at the College during 2020/21.

“We have sought to protect our colleagues from the impact of that by making savings elsewhere rather than reducing our staffing.

“The 1.5 per cent pay award that we have offered has been accepted by Unison and the National Education Union. It is regrettable that this is not the case with UCU.

“During the last three years, we have offered pay awards above the sector average, including raising the minimum wage to the level of the foundation living wage, reflecting our commitment to investing in our staff.”