UNISON West Sussex members joined thousands of other staff at further education colleges across England in a one-day strike over pay, causing major disruption to lessons. Lecturers, librarians, technicians, cleaners and caretakers who belong to UNISON and the University and College Union (UCU) were among those taking part.
The protest was against a recommended pay freeze by the Association of Colleges, following several years where staff have had very low pay rises, resulting in a real-terms pay cut for some of up to 17 per cent.
South-East Regional Officer Sarah McGreal joined branch Rep David Hammond and members at the Brinsbury campus (Chichester College) picket-line:
“We picketed the main entrance from 7.30 to 9.30 am. It was -2°C, but beautiful sunshine and countryside! We stood either side of the entrance with placards and leafleted drivers ensuring we did not impede traffic. We also leafleted the principal, directors, staff, the public and students. The majority of feedback was supportive or at least people demonstrated they were willing to take a leaflet and understand the issues. It was a very successful morning: we were seen and supported by hundreds of car drivers.”
Government funding cuts over several years have left colleges in dire financial straits. Staff have been left with no choice but to take action to win a fair deal.
UNISON West Sussex members took action at all three of the West Sussex FE colleges: Northbrook College, Chichester College and Central Sussex College.