On Monday 26th September colleges across the country went out on strike including Bristol, Bridgwater, Plymouth, and Swindon where picket lines were solid. Strikes continued through the week with a rolling programme over the next month promised if management do not change tack. UCU Member and Chair of Bridgwater Labour Party, Cllr Irena Hubble, said “Like NHS nurses lecturers do not take this decision lightly. Our students need their teachers ~ no amount of on-line will replace what they stand to lose. However, lecturers have been driven to this by the fact that with the cost of living crisis their living standards are falling to unacceptable levels. Already called the Cinderella service lecturers earn on average £9000 less than their school teacher counterparts. Workloads are spiralling out of control as low wages in the SW in particular mean that across the sector recruitment is becoming impossible . This means that the work of someone who leaves is often passed onto to a colleague -not because of a job cut but simply as no-one applies for that post! Wages have to go up before the very valuable service taking students from school and preparing them for apprenticeships, university or work simply disappears”
Talking to those on strike it was obvious feelings were running high.
To the question: why are you striking? This was the response.
“To gain better pay for everyone in the college, to bring college teachers wages up to something near school teachers wages.”
“We need to recruit and retain staff to be an outstanding college. Striking is not taken lightly, we have tried to negotiate a fairer pay for every one but only the managers money is in the top 10 whereas the majority of the staff are in the bottom 10 %!”
“We are also doing it for the students as poor teacher recruitment affects them and us !”