WORKERS at Barnsley College took to the picket line due to an ongoing pay dispute last Monday – and warned strikes will continue unless a fair deal is reached.
Supported by trade union Unison, non-teaching staff have been petitioning for a pay rise of 2.5 per cent and a one-off payment of either £500 or £750 based on salary, which was recommended by the Association of Colleges (AoC).
The college implemented a two per cent pay increase in January for all employees, along with a one-off payment of £300.
However with their demands not met, 91 per cent of the trade union’s members voted to take industrial action, building up a picket line outside the college’s sixth form building on St Mary’s Place.
Robin Symonds, Unison’s Yorkshire and Humberside regional organiser, said “We want a pay settlement for this year which gives everybody a reasonable increase – we’ve got a member here who works part-time and her pay has only gone up by £80 which is not enough for anyone.
“But it’s also about the fact that they won’t negotiate with us on pay the next year and the year after – so unless they change their position we’re going to be in dispute with them every year.”
One worker, who did not wish to be named, added: “I’m actually worse off this month because they’ve worked out bank holidays.
“It’s ridiculous that they’re saying we’ve got a pay rise when actually I’m looking at my pay slip and it’s less.”
The strike also received support from members of Barnsley Trade Union Council, with member Fran Postlethwaite showing support for staff.
She added: “I think it’s very important that people stand up and support anybody who’s fighting back, so I went to see the picket line and join in.
“I think the way the Unison members at the college have been treated is absolutely disgraceful – national agreements are being breached and people aren’t getting money that they’re entitled to.
“We’ve got a cost-of-living crisis and some of these people are the lowest-paid in our community – they deserve much better.
“Organisations like colleges don’t operate without these support staff – the cleaners, caretakers, admin workers, the people in catering, it’s not just about the teaching staff in college, it needs that whole community.”
A Barnsley College spokesperson said: “Unison informed us that the strike action was to support their request for local pay negotiations.
“The college is a member of the Association of Colleges (AoC) which negotiates nationally on pay on behalf of further education colleges with all recognised trade unions, including Unison.
“The college implemented two pay increases in the last academic year and has exceeded the AoC’s pay recommendation for support staff in 2022/23.
“Around five per cent of staff voted for strike action which did not include teaching staff.
“The college ensured that all services and lessons were provided to students.”