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Three-day pay strike hits student lectures at Hackney Community and Tower Hamlets colleges

PUBLISHED: 17:51 09 May 2018 | UPDATED: 18:26 10 May 2018

Lecturers' strike hits Hackney Community College in Hoxton. Picture source: Google

Lecturers' strike hits Hackney Community College in Hoxton. Picture source: Google

Google

Some lecturers will be staging a three-day strike at Hackney Community and Tower Hamlets colleges starting on Friday.

Protesters campaigning against language course cuts in 2016 at New City college campuses. Picture source: UnisonProtesters campaigning against language course cuts in 2016 at New City college campuses. Picture source: Unison

The industrial action will also take place on Monday and Tuesday at their Poplar, Stepney and Hoxton campuses over pay and working conditions.

Their University and College Union are asking for more than the implemented one per cent pay rise saying the current increase is below inflation and would further shrink their income in real terms.

“Staff have had years of pay being suppressed,” a union spokesman said. “We’ve seen pay drop by 25 per cent in real terms since 2009.”

The strike is another blow for both colleges which were hit by £1.2 million government spending cuts in 2016 which has reduced the courses being offered.

New City colleges' executive principal Gerry McDonald. Picture: Mike BrookeNew City colleges' executive principal Gerry McDonald. Picture: Mike Brooke

Now staff are facing further squeeze on salaries with below-inflation pay rises recommended by the Association of Colleges, which represents the further education sector.

The union’s general secretary Sally Hunt said: “Strike action is a last resort, but they have no option in the face of repeated pay awards below inflation.

“The colleges need to address these concerns if they want to avoid further disruption to students in the coming weeks.”

This latest action, which also involves a dispute over workloads and holiday entitlement, is the third wave of industrial action following earlier walk-outs in February and March.

Tower Hamlets and Hackney colleges, now under rebranded ‘New City College’ group management, lobbied the government over the cuts they’ve been facing which affected adult courses including English second language classes at the Stepney campus in Arbour Square.

Group principal and CEO Gerry McDonald said at the time: “Our budget was reduced by 18 per cent. We have to find £700,000 to close the gap.”

It has already led to courses being trimmed, especially adult education.

A spokeswoman for the college said: “The college will remain open as usual for its students during the days when some teaching staff will be on strike.

“All students are expected to attend lessons.”

The latest pay strike is part of a union dispute at other colleges with walk-outs planned during May and June at City and Islington, Westminster Kingsway, Havering, Lewisham, Lambeth, Haringey and Epping Forest.

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