February 3, 2023

LECTURERS at a Stourbridge college are set to strike tomorrow in a dispute over pay.

Lecturers at King Edward VI College, who are members of the National Education Union (NEU), will be picketing in the morning (Wednesday November 30).

Members of the union working at sixth form colleges across England have voted to strike in response to a pay rise offer.

The union said a pay offer from the Sixth Form Colleges Association’s offer would see the majority of teachers receive a 5 per cent pay award, rising to 8.9 per cent for a small minority – while inflation is running at 11 per cent.

It said NEU sixth form teachers have declared ‘enough is enough’ and are calling on the Secretary of State for Education to fully fund their pay demand of an inflation-plus rise.

Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The sector has suffered real-terms pay cuts in the region of 20 per cent since 2010.

“Further below inflation pay increases are simply unacceptable to our members.

“Strike action is always taken with great regret, but the sentiment of this ballot result is clear: enough is enough.

“The government must listen and take notice of the effect real-terms pay cuts are having on our members, and, if we continue down this unsustainable path, the consequences that their leaving the profession will have on both the sector and the young people they teach.”

88.5 per cent of staff voted to strike in a ballot where there was a turnout of 63 per cent.

The formal ballot was a combined vote across all affected sixth form colleges and is likely to see a national strike in the sector for the first time since 2016.

Tomorrow is the first planned day of strike action.

SFCA Chief Executive Bill Watkin said: “Sixth form colleges recognise the extraordinary efforts made by teachers and support staff to look after young people throughout the Covid pandemic, and to continue providing a high quality education in the face of enormous difficulties.

“Teachers’ and support staff salaries are being eroded, as energy costs and other inflationary pressures increase, but the government funds sixth form colleges at a lower level than schools, universities and other colleges, and sixth form colleges simply do not have the resources to meet demands for such a high pay rise. 

“It is disappointing that a generation of young people, who had their education so disrupted by Covid, now risks losing yet more time in the classroom, on the sports field and with staff whose job is to support their mental health and emotional well-being.

“In spite of ongoing hardships and inadequate funding, colleges are determined to go on doing all that they can to provide a safe and stimulating environment for young people to come and learn together”.

King Edward VI College has been contacted for comment. 

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