College staff in Brent strike in pay and zero hours contract dispute

Protesters picketing the College of NorthWest London UCU members with students from the Willesden Ca

Protesters picketing the College of NorthWest London UCU members with students from the Willesden Campus of CNWL. Pic credit: Adam Tiernan Thomas - Credit: Archant

Staff from a college in Brent took to the picket lines for asecond time in a protest over pay as part of national strike action.

Members of University College Union (UCU) at the College of North West London (CNWL) based in Wembley and Willesden, staged their walk-out yesterday and have not ruled out a third.

Staff are angry that the employers’ representatives, the Association of Colleges (AoC), recommended a pay freeze despite staff suffering a real-terms pay cut of 17 per cent in the last five years.

Indro Sen, branch secretary of UCU, said: “This is a national action, not just a college action. The AoC representative body have decided that they will not negotiate any pay increase and said to colleges we must have a pay freeze. We want £1 an hour increase which is £1,400 extra for a lecturer.”

CNWL was awarded a “good” grading by educations watchdogs last month and Mr Sen warned this could be seriously impacted if teachers’ concerns weren’t listened to.

He explained: “A number of permanent teachers are leaving or have left and being replaced by zero-hours contract workers. This will have a detrimental effect on our students’ life chances and we don’t think we can capitalise on the Ofsted Grade 2 in the future, and this is a pay issue.

“Contract workers have no marking and preparation time in the same way permanent staff do so when students are looking for them for help and advice they are not there.

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“They are paid for the hours they teach whereas permanent staff have 12 extra paid hours on site to spend on students.”

Mr Sen did not rule out further strike action, the first balloted walk-out taking place last November. He said: “This is a last resort for us. The colleges are deliberately pushing all the cuts on the teachers’ wages and we feel this is short-sighted. Why can’t a discussion take place?”

A spokesman for CNWL said: “The College sought to minimise disruption to our students’ learning as a result of this national pay dispute. The College remained open on the day and a large majority of lessons went ahead as scheduled.”