East Sussex College staff announce strike dates

The Lewes campus of East Sussex College Group
The Lewes campus of East Sussex College Group

Staff at East Sussex College Group will be taking strike action soon as part of a row with college bosses over pay.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at the college group have announced they will take industrial action on Tuesday (January 29) and Wednesday (January 30).

The Eastbourne Campus of East Sussex College Group

The Eastbourne Campus of East Sussex College Group

East Sussex College responds as staff threaten strike action

This comes after 91 per cent of staff who voted backed strikes in December.

The college’s sites in Eastbourne, Hastings, Lewes and Newhaven will all be affected by the action as part of a second wave of strikes after staff at six colleges took action in November.

UCU regional official Michael Moran said: “UCU members at East Sussex College are being forced to take strike action to secure fair pay. Staff have had enough of increasing workloads while their pay is eroded.

“The college needs to prioritise its staff and come back to us with a meaningful offer. If it refuses then further strikes are on the cards.”

UCU says the dispute centres on the ‘failure of college bosses to make a decent pay offer to staff who have seen the value of their pay decline by 25 per cent over the last decade’.

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The pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools currently stands at £7,000, it says.

The union said further strikes were planned if the college refused to make a ‘decent offer’ and that it ‘could not hide behind government cuts’ if it wanted to avoid further disruption.

It said the college should follow the lead of the Capital City College Group, which recently agreed a five per cent pay deal for its 1,700 staff.

Responding, a spokesperson from the College Group said: “The East Sussex College Group remains committed to working with the union to demand fairer FE funding from the Government.”

East Sussex College Group Chief Executive Officer Clive Cooke said the college’s teachers are very committed to their students and he understood and empathised with many of the union’s concerns but stressed the Government needed to loosen its purse strings to move the situation forward.

Mr Cooke said: “The news comes as funding rates per student remain frozen and colleges face inflation-linked increases from suppliers across the board.

“These budget cuts have put a huge strain on colleges and salaries in the county and across England and Wales.

“We are keen to talk with our union colleagues locally and nationally to try and resolve possible strike action

“Indeed, we want to work with in partnership with our union colleagues to demand better Government investment in the further education sector.

“If we are joined up in our approach to Government, I believe we will have a greater chance of success.”

He encouraged people to sign a petition calling for fairer funding for the sector, which is available here.