UCU staff say decade of wages below inflation has eroded income
Today (21st September 2023) and for the immediate future, teaching staff at SERC will be on strike demanding parity of esteem in their wages and seeking better work conditions.
Staff maintain that over the past decade their wages have decreased below the line of inflation and in real terms they are worse off.
Dave Cresswell, Chairman of the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) in SERC, said: “We are striking about low wages, poor work conditions and working under a cloud of threatened redundancies.
“We have been on strike all week, the first week of the new term and this will be followed by a work-to-rule.
“Then there will be rolling strikes across the Further Education Colleges in Northern Ireland until November.
“We do not plan to strike in December, however, we could extend the strike action if necessary into 2024.”
Dave Cresswell explained that the SERC and FE lecturers were the lowest paid of the devolved administrations.
He added: “Basically we need a fair deal. The cost-of-living is spiralling along with energy bills. Our lecturers are being forced into overtime to make up a liveable wage.
“Our wages are being eroded by the rise in the cost of fuel, food, transport and national insurance.
“Also, the increased workload on our staff has an impact on their health and this is unacceptable. And over years FE employers have attempted to remove workload protections from their job contracts.”
The workers on the picket were unanamous in that they wanted to be shown respect, to have their workloads set at a maneagable level, and to to see an end to pay awards linked to efficiency savings.
The UCU is fighting its corner across the UK and Northern Ireland staff and lecturers are angered that they are not being offered parity of esteem when the UK government has cleared a £500million offer to staff in England.
The message from the UCU members was clear: they wanted the Secretary of State to ensure that Northern Ireland Further Education colleges and the workforce are adequately financed.
(SERC was not available today to comment on the strike issue but Down News will post up a response once it is forthcoming.)