London colleges victory

by Bea Gardner, North London Socialist Party and UCU member

University and College Union (UCU) members at Capital City College group have agreed a deal in a dispute over pay and conditions. Reps have since told us that they are determined to build on this win, aiming to make further gains on pay and workload in next year’s pay negotiations — one rep said they don’t plan to “get back in their shell”.

UCU college workers in London take strike action
in October 2021

The group is the largest in London and covers City and Islington College, Westminster Kingsway and College of North East London (CONEL).

Earlier in the autumn, members took ten days of strike action and voted to take an additional ten days if management did not concede to their demands. Under the deal made, staff at CONEL will be put on London weighting (worth £1,700) and their conditions aligned with others in the group, adding three days of holiday and a further £1,500 to their pay packets.

In addition, all staff across the group will receive a £700 pay increase this year. As well as pay, improvements to conditions have also been won, including the scrapping of the much-hated observation policy, which allowed management to observe any class, any time without warning.

All three colleges increased their union density and attracted new activists ready to take on roles as reps. The branches can now build on this increased confidence of members.

The victory at Capital City Colleges is the latest in a series of local deals agreed at the 15 UCU college branches which achieved mandates for strike action last summer. The victories show once again that when workers organise, they can win. The next step is for the UCU to coordinate a greater mobilisation of college branches if this year’s pay offer falls short of the 10% figure voted for at the sector conference.