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.