Wales Further Education Ballot: Vote for Action!

23rd October 2014

Wales FE Pay Consultative Ballot

A postal consultative ballot of UNISON and other campus union members will begin this week in Welsh Further Education colleges, on whether we are prepared to take industrial action over the intention of Collegau Cymru (representing the colleges in Wales) to pay no cost of living increase this year.

Pay freezes and below inflation awards mean that the incomes of many FE workers have fallen by around 18% in real terms, when compared with inflation, in recent years. This is why UNISON is recommending that all members vote in support of a campaign of industrial action to win a pay award to halt the continual decline in our wages.

No doubt many members will be concerned about where the cost of a pay award would be met from with the Welsh Government having indicated, in their latest draft budget, that they intend to pass on £millions more of Con-Dem cuts to Further Education and post-school training in Wales. 

But we cannot accept our members’ living standards continuing to be forced down. Wage restraint hasn’t prevented hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs from being lost across the sector. With the Welsh Government and Collegau Cymru predicting years more of austerity being translated into further cuts, regardless of who wins the General Election next year, we need to take a stand or more FE workers will be forced into poverty and still the sector will bleed jobs.

That’s why, Socialist Party members demand that any campaign over pay has to be linked to a campaign to stop the cuts in further education. We must demand from the Welsh Government the necessary funds to meet the training and education needs of our communities. We can’t allow ourselves to be pitted against other parts of the public sector either – funds for education can’t come at the expense of council services or the NHS in Wales. Instead of deciding which part of the public sector in Wales should be hit the hardest by Con-Dem cuts, we demand the Welsh Government stop wielding the Con-Dems’ axe and start fighting back.

It is because of the failure of Welsh Labour to stand up to Con-Dem cuts that the Socialist Party calls on trade unionists and anti-cuts campaigners to build the Trade Unionists and Socialist Coalition as a serious ‘no cuts’ alternative in Wales, standing in council by-elections, like the Uplands Ward in Swansea next month and standing as many candidates as possible in the General Election in 2015. 

UNISON members have just this week, voted for strike action on pay in the Welsh NHS; there is a growing demand from UNISON members in councils, that the suspension of strike action over pay in local authorities be overturned and the pay campaign resumed. We all stand a much better chance of winning on pay and halting cuts as well if we all strike together. We need to rediscover the power that co-ordinated action gave us when we all went out in November 2011. We need to build towards a 24 hour general strike as a significant step forwards in winning the pay rise that the TUC has highlighted “Britain needs”.

Ronnie Job
FE UNISON steward (personal capacity)
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