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College staff in the North East go on strike again in long-running pay row

STAFF at five colleges in Yorkshire and Country Durham began two days’ strike today in a long-running dispute over low pay.  

University and College Union (UCU) members voted to strike after employer body the Education Training Collective (ETC) refused to make an improved offer.    

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: “Our members are striking because college bosses have the money to pay staff fairly but are refusing to do so.

“When staff are being paid poverty wages, an extra two ‘wellbeing’ days simply will not cut it. We are urging management to make a realistic offer and end the disruption.”

UCU members at Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training Group, Stockton Riverside College, The Skills Academy, and Redcar and Cleveland College overwhelmingly rejected an offer of 3 per cent for 2002/23.

They also voted to reject a further offer of an additional 1 per cent, which was only to be paid for three months of that financial year. 

Staff have already taken four days of strike action since November, but ETC has responded by offering two “wellbeing days” and nothing on pay. 

A UCU spokesman said: “ETC has over £4m cash in the bank, and in 2022 its principal was paid over £300,000, but it is trying to recruit staff for less than £23,000.

“Since the ballot has started, ETC has also been provided with unexpected and additional local funding, which UCU believes should be used to end this dispute.”

UCU regional support official Chris Robinson said the union would likely recommend a 9.5 per cent pay rise for 2023-2024 to its members.

The ETC said it was “disappointed" by the further strike action.

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