Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at Nottingham College will begin a three-day walkout on Monday (23 September) as strikes at the college enter their third consecutive week.
Staff will be on picket lines from 8.30am on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at the main college entrances including on Maid Marian Way, on Pelham Avenue at the Clarendon Campus and the outside Adams Building in the Lace Market. Following the pickets on Monday, UCU members will also take part in a rally at the Robin Hood statue from 11.30am.
Nottingham North MP Alex Norris, who visited the picket lines this week along with other local MPs Lilian Greenwood and Vernon Coaker, has also urged the college to return to negotiations, saying that the current proposals would mean “significant reductions” in staff terms and conditions.
Next week’s walkout marks the third week of a mammoth 15 days of strike action planned for September and October.
Members have taken three days of action in the last two weeks and will be walking out in escalating strikes of three, four and five days in the coming weeks. The remaining strike dates are:
Week 3: Monday 23, Tuesday 24 and Wednesday 25 September
Week 4: Monday 30 September, Tuesday 1, Thursday 3, and Friday 4 October
Week 5: Monday 7, Tuesday 8, Wednesday 9, Thursday 10 and Friday 11 October
Organisers say that the dispute centres on the college’s move to impose new contracts which would lead to pay cuts for many staff, as well as removing key protections designed to protect staff against work overload. Staff at the college have not received a pay rise since 2010.
UCU said its members were ‘furious that the college had threatened to dismiss staff refusing to sign up to the new contracts’, which also cut holiday entitlements. In the recent ballot, 96% of UCU members who voted backed strike action.
Staff at the college first walked out for a one-day strike in July, and warned then that further action would follow if the college did not come back to the table prepared to seriously negotiate. UCU said it had given the college months to resolve the dispute but that management’s uncompromising approach had only made members more determined to fight the damaging changes.
UCU general secretary, Jo Grady, said: ‘UCU members at Nottingham College are rightly furious at the college’s attempts to force staff into new contracts. The proposals not only mean a pay cut for many members, they remove important protections against work overload which are crucial in maintaining a quality student experience. The college’s uncompromising approach has only made members more determined to fight these damaging changes. To avoid further disruption the college must come back to the negotiating table urgently with an improved offer.’
Alex Norris, MP for Nottingham North, said: ‘Further education is desperately underfunded and the staff are working under intolerable pressures. For UCU members at Nottingham College this is being worsened by significant reductions in their terms and conditions. They overwhelmingly chose to take strike action to take a stand against this and I am joining them in solidarity. I encourage management at the college to get back round the negotiating table and address members’ concerns as soon as possible.’