University and College Union (UCU) members at Barnsley College began a two-day strike today, Wednesday 26 November, against the forcing through of a new contract that means some teachers will end up on worse pay and less holidays than others.
The contract was proposed in May and UCU rejected it and requested extended talks, but instead management forced it through in June without agreement, on the back of a restructure that saw job cuts as well as huge downgrading.
The college principal making these cuts has seen his pay increase 40% since 2009 to £142,000 a year! In the same period, Further Education pay has fallen nationally by 15%, and some teachers at Barnsley College have seen their pay cut by a further 33% due to restructures and downgrading.
On the picket line, I noticed a lot of men had beards. Asked about this, one striker quipped: "It shows how poor we've become, we can't afford razors anymore!"
The strikers will meet tomorrow to decide on further action which they hope will force the Principal back to negotiations.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 26 November 2014 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.