Monthly Archives: September 2013

Association of Colleges Pay Offer News

RELUCTANT ACCEPTANCE OF PALTRY 0.7% PAY OFFER

It was with little pleasure that the national colleges’ committee members agreed to accept the 2013 pay offer on behalf of UNISON members in further education colleges in England. Responses were received from only 44 colleges after two trawls: 8 were ‘rejections’, 2 inconclusive and 34 ‘accepted’ the 0.7% offer  which includes the Living Wage rate of £7.45 as the new bottom point of the national pay scale. As is ever the case, the offer is only a recommendation and effort will be needed to achieve implementation at local level, especially where there are funding cuts and redundancies.

The national committee will meet on the 4 October and has a packed agenda, including discussion of issues that are on the table with the Association of Colleges (AoC). These include zero-hour contracts; lesson observation case study project; and joint agreements on guidance on:

  • Handling Capability
  • Redundancy Avoidance and Handling
  • Sickness Leave

 The thorniest of these issues is a proposed new sickness leave agreement which AoC say is prompted by the results of a survey suggesting that there are high levels of sickness absence in the sector with a significant cost. The trade union side is challenging their data and talks continue.

The AoC is conducting a review of further education bargaining and asking colleges if they wish to remain in national bargaining, or move to regional or local level.

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Union Membership Update

According to the latest figures from the TUC (Trade Unions Congress) total union membership across the sector has fallen by 2% in the last year, to a total of 5.9 million.

UNISON Membership Matrix

Recent annual comparisons have been somewhat distorted by the effects on membership caused by the pensions dispute in 2011. Most unions involved that dispute, and subsequent strike day, had unusually high levels of recruitment around the height of the action. This resulted in 2012 figures being untypically high. Subsequent falls in membership to the 2013 level have therefore been sharper than they would otherwise have been.

The various unions have had differing fortunes between 2012/13, with Unite suffering the greatest loss of membership   with a 6.3% fall – 88,000 members lost – in the period.

The second largest contributor to the fall was the civil service union PCS which sustained 18,000 (6.3%) fall in membership.

Over the same period UNISON lost 16,000 members (1.2%).

Union membership always drops during Conservative governments and the trend continued under New Labour, albeit at a lower rate.

The TUC said that the fall in membership was “a direct result of redundancies particularly in the public sector”.

“The private sector lost jobs at the start of the recession but government spending cuts now aim to reduce the public sector workforce by up to a million,” a spokesperson added.

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