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South Tyneside College staff strike over ‘insulting’ pay freeze

Staff have voiced their anger after South Tyneside College bosses imposed a pay freeze.
Staff have voiced their anger after South Tyneside College bosses imposed a pay freeze.

Scores of angry South Tyneside College workers have launched a passionate pay protest after being hit by an ‘insulting’ annual wage freeze.

Lecturers staged a placard-carrying demonstration outside the St George’s Avenue site as part of a day of strike action yesterday which saw more than 100 staff refusing to work.

The loss of earnings over the years is incredible - it has to stop

Lecturer James Hughes

The fed-up members of staff say they have been treated with a lack of respect by bosses after a recommendation for a nationwide freeze in pay for further education employees was given the thumbs-up by management at the college.

The University and College Union (UCU), which represents the workforce at the college, says staff are angry that pay levels are standing still – while the general cost of living continues to rise.

Adam Peacock, branch chairman of the UCU and a lecturer at the college for six years, said: “There have been issues over pay for a long time, it is a year-on-year problem.

“We have not even had a pay offer.

“We all know further education colleges are going through tough times but for the work we all put in, it is not asking too much to be given a pay reward.”

Fellow lecturer James Hughes said: “The loss of earnings over the years is incredible – it has to stop.

“We have been shown little or no respect through this offer of no pay increase.

A South Tyneside College spokesman said: “The UCU’s industrial action locally is based on the union’s national dispute with the Association of Colleges.

“It is the Association of Colleges that has recommended a pay freeze, and South Tyneside College, like many colleges across the country, is following that recommendation.

“We have consulted closely with the UCU locally over the issue of funding challenges, and this pay freeze was part of an agreement established this summer, of which the UCU was in accordance.

“The union in South Tyneside was aware of the 0% offer from detailed discussions we held with it during the summer and which formed part of an overall package of terms that it agreed to.

“The UCU is also fully aware of the financial restrictions we are operating under. 
“We do, of course, recognise the union members’ right to take industrial action.”