Kirklees College to be hit by four days of strike action in pay dispute
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As well as today, workers at the college’s two Dewsbury sites, the Pioneer Higher Skills Centre and Springfield Sixth Form Centre, as well as at the Huddersfield Centre, will also be striking on Tuesday, September 12, Wednesday, September 20 and Thursday, September 21.
The strikes will hit the first teaching week of the new academic year. College staff have already taken six days of strike action across May and June with the union saying that “management has refused to budge from a pay award for 2022/23 of just one per cent, plus a £500 non-consolidated lump sum.”
The union also says that “college management unilaterally imposed a ‘cost of living’ pay award of just 2.5 per cent for 2023/24 during pay talks for 2022/23,” and that “the college's financial accounts show it has over £10m cash in the bank yet is hiring teachers for as little as £25k (full time equivalent salary).”
UCU regional official, Julie Kelley, said: “Unless Kirklees College does the right thing and pays staff what they are worth, students coming into the college for the first week of teaching in the new academic year will see how badly their teachers are treated.
“We met with management in good faith to try to resolve this dispute and avoid strike action, but principal Palvinder Singh has made it clear that he will not use the huge increase in the college’s funding to support staff.
“This was a wasted opportunity and the disruption that will be caused over these next four days of strike action is squarely the responsibility of management’s intransigent approach.
“Inflation has skyrocketed over the past two years so successive derisory pay awards are pushing our members further into poverty. It is unacceptable and Kirklees College urgently needs to use the cash it is hoarding to protect staff from the cost-of-living crisis.
“If it refuses to do so, staff will be forced to strike again.”
The union also claims that “the college is aware that it will be in receipt of new money for 2023/24 and 2024/25 and that this is intended to be used on pay and yet, despite this, management have made no serious attempt to avert this strike.”
A Kirklees College spokesperson said: “Kirklees College has remained prepared to work fully with the unions to achieve the best outcomes for staff and students within a national funded system.
“The college must ensure a sustainable future with an affordable pay increase which does not inadvertently put jobs at risk longer term.
“Last year we invested £1.7m into staff pay. This is a sector challenge as pay demands are high, as they are across the public sector at this time.
“We welcome the government’s recent announcement for additional funding and are committed to increasing staff pay.”