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College lecturers in Wales strike against low pay and workload
Clare Gibbs, UCU Coleg y Cymoedd (personal capacity)
Lecturers across Wales will be taking strike action over pay and workload on 4 and 13-14 December. This follows the fantastic ballot result of University and College Union (UCU) members who voted overwhelmingly to strike.
On pay the result was 90.5% in support of strike action with a 52.3% turnout. On workload there was a 53.8% turnout with 90.1% in favour of action. Both ballot results comfortably meet the thresholds set by the 2016 Trade Union Act indicating the strength of feeling among lecturing staff over these issues.
College trade unions met Colegau Cymru, Welsh colleges principal representative body, on 16 November. This meeting did not result in a revised offer. Colegau Cymru claimed they haven't received additional funding from the Welsh Government yet and are awaiting the outcome in January. It is clear that Colegau Cymru are testing our resolve.
The further education sector in Wales is in crisis and the increasing intensity of workloads, coupled with job cuts and a decade of real-terms pay cuts are leading to low staff morale which is having a negative impact on the quality of learners' education. A decade of austerity and inadequate funding has devastated further education in Wales.
Pay is a crucial issue for education workers. Members have endured a 20% pay cut in real terms over the last decade. Our members are seeking support from charities as they face financial difficulties. Education workers cannot afford not to fight on pay.
In addition a UCU Wales survey on workload showed that members are working on average 50-hour weeks, but getting paid for just 37.
UCU Coleg y Cymoedd hopes that Colegau Cymru will recognise the damaging effect working conditions are having on both staff and students. Welsh Government and Colegau Cymru must understand that the working conditions of lecturers are the learning conditions of students.
- Messages of solidarity would be welcome and please support local college pickets and a lobby of the Senedd on 4 December. Supporters could also donate to the UCU Wales hardship fund to help some of our lowest paid members to take strike action: UCU Wales Hardship Fund, Unity Bank, sort code: 608301, account number: 20085704.
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