College lecturers walk out in row over pay

Blackpool and the Fylde College's Bispham campus, in Ashfield Road
Blackpool and the Fylde College's Bispham campus, in Ashfield Road
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Lecturers from Blackpool and the Fylde College are striking today as part of an ongoing row over pay.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) walked out after clashing with the Association of Colleges (AoC), the national employers' body, over plans for a pay freeze.

The union had asked for an extra £1 per hour for its members, but the AoC, which branded the strike 'disruptive' said its recommendation reflected colleges' tight budgets, leading to a vote for industrial action.

Blackpool and the Fylde College's students are not believed to have been heavily affected today, with bosses there insisting lessons remain 'business as usual'.

The UCU's Blackpool branch chair, Darren Bradshaw, joined his colleagues on the picket line at the college's Bispham campus in Ashfield Road this morning.

He said staff were also striking to highlight their concerns over the government's upcoming spending review, which Labour said could see 40 per cent of the country's colleges forced to close.

The maths teacher, who moved to the resort from London, said: "Our issue is not with the college, it's with the government.

"It's over pay today but it's also about the future of further education. We are looking at a huge amount of job losses all over the country."

The UCU's picket line outside the college is small, with only three members waving placards and speaking to passers-by.

However, the union estimated around 20,000 members of staff at 207 colleges are striking and taking part in rallies across the country.

General secretary, Sally Hunt, said: “Members are sick of the employers’ refusal to deal with the real-terms pay cuts that have blighted the sector.

“For the Association of Colleges to recommend that all their members freeze staff pay this year was a real insult.

“Members who voted gave a clear mandate for strike action and we took that action tomorrow. We hope employers will come back to the table.”

Mark Whitworth, director of employment policy and services at the AoC, said: “Strikes are very disruptive for colleges and more importantly for students.

“There is a willingness from the employers’ side to work together.

“The pay recommendation reflects the stringent financial circumstances in the sector and the significant external pressures on college pay bills.

“Our position reflects the feedback we had from our members.”

A college spokeswoman said: "It's business as usual. We will manage any potential issues."