College strikers call for ‘fair pay’ for staff

Strike over pay at Sussex Coast College, Hastings SUS-160303-093427001
Strike over pay at Sussex Coast College, Hastings SUS-160303-093427001

A strike took place at Sussex Coast College over staff wages.

On February 24, the University College Union (UCU), and Unison pickets were joined by Hasings Solidarity and Unite Community after staff at the college were offered a zero per cent rise, with no further negotiations.

A UCU spokesman said: “The average lecturer’s pay at Sussex Coast College Hastings is £26,900, half of the college’s staff are paid less than £23k and 33 per cent of the curriculum is taught by staff paid less than £19k. Sussex Coast College Hastings is rated 159th out of 181 for ‘best paid’ further education colleges in the UK. UCU have offered the college an opportunity to value its staff and community by negotiating a local pay claim and work load offer. It would be wise of the college to accept this offer to reduce the already impacted delivery of education to the young people of Hastings, and bring a halt to strike action.

“The cuts imposed on further education, and education in general, have undermined the very institutions that can deliver the government’s pledges and offer the people of Hastings a brighter future.

“What the staff of the college need is to feel respected and valued, rather than exploited and treated like cattle where their work is under valued. Therefore, by actually coming around the table and talking, Sussex Coast College will indeed fulfil its mission statement of inspiring futures and changing lives, of its best asset, its staff. It is not the building that makes the college, but what goes on inside those four walls.”

A college spokesman said: “Maintaining the highest standards of teaching and learning remains a non-negotiable position for the college, as we continue to strive to lessen any impact on our students as a result of this industrial action. In a very challenging financial climate for the FE sector as whole, the college has been working tirelessly to minimise the risk of redundancies. However, this has meant taking a number of difficult decisions concerning the pay terms and conditions of staff.”