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AoC responds to UCU announcement on ballots for strike action at 32 colleges

12 October 2023

Responding to the UCU announcement on ballots for strike action at 32 colleges, AoC chief executive David Hughes said: “I’m disappointed to see UCU moving ahead with its balloting after we made what UCU itself has described as a good start in putting college pay back where it should be. This year, after over a decade of government funding cuts, our campaigning helped secure extra funding for colleges to help match the pay award in schools. That money is welcome and allowed us to make a strong offer in response to UCU’s pay claim, but the unions know that, frustratingly, not every college will be able to offer 6.5% because of the way the funding was distributed.

“That is why our Employment Committee recommended that colleges should use all of their share of the £200 million pounds of additional government funding to address staff recruitment and retention challenges, to be open and transparent about the total additional funding their individual institution has received and show how it is being used to address the pay issues they face. We have also agreed to work with the unions to explore the potential for new national pay bargaining arrangements and how much it would cost to harmonise pay upwards to match schools and industry.

“We invited the unions to cancel the ballot in favour of joining our campaigning for further investment ahead of the general election. We have shown that this approach is working and with more support it can work even better in putting college pay back on track. The low number of colleges where the crucial threshold for pursuing strike action was reached shows that most college staff agree that the settlement we recommended is reasonable.”