STRIKE action is set to take place at Barnsley College after a trade union accused the further education hub’s bosses of ‘refusing’ to engage in pay discussions.
Workers at the college’s sites will strike on Monday, September 11, Unison confirmed to the Chronicle this week, after more than 91 per cent of its members’ votes cast in a ballot were in favour.
The college implemented a two per cent pay increase in January for all employees, along with a one-off payment of £300.
However, Unison said it is below the pay recommendation put forward by the Association of Colleges (AoC) for the 2022/23 academic year of a 2.5 per cent pay rise and one-off payment of either £500 or £750 based on salary.
Robyn Symonds, from the trade union, said: “We balloted the staff we represent in May, at which point Barnsley College proposed changing the pay structure to increase pay for all staff.
“The changes would see some staff move up to the next pay point in their grade, and £500 pay increases for managers.
“There was no negotiation or consultation on the change of structure, and Unison was informed the college would only implement it if the union ended the dispute.
“The change was never put to us as a pay offer, due to the college’s refusal to negotiate over pay.
“We have held talks with college management through the arbitration service Acas, during which managers confirmed the proposed financial changes have been imposed without negotiation or consultation.
“Barnsley College is refusing to engage in any pay negotiations, while bringing in a pay increase below what was recommended by the AoC.
“This is a show of complete disrespect to workers, especially during a cost-of-living crisis, and staff won’t stand for it.
“This walk-out isn’t only about the college’s unwillingness to give staff a decent pay rise in the current financial climate, it’s also about being able to negotiate better wages in future.”
Each year the AoC makes a pay recommendation to further education colleges, but colleges are not obliged to accept the recommendations.
A Barnsley College spokesperson added: “Unison has informed us that the strike action is to support their request for local pay negotiations.
“The college implemented two pay increases in the last academic year and has exceeded the AoC pay recommendation for support staff in 2022/23.
“Around five per cent of staff voted for strike action, which will not include teaching staff.
“The college will ensure that all services and lessons are provided to students.”