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Staff at Armagh’s SRC campus begin walkout in dispute over pay

Staff at Armagh's SRC on the picket line in dispute over pay and conditions
Staff at Armagh's SRC on the picket line in dispute over pay and conditions

Staff at the Southern Regional College (SRC) campus in Armagh have begun a week-long walkout in a dispute over pay and conditions.

They are joining their University and College Union (UCU) members doing the same at the other SRC campuses – and indeed Further Education (FE) colleges across Northern Ireland.

This week’s action will be followed by one day strikes every six days for the next until December.

The UCU represents the majority of more than 1,700 FE lecturers and, as a result, the industrial action is expected to hit hardest in the classroom.

Picket supervisor and union rep for UCU in Armagh, Darragh Peden, said the main reason for strikes was “value”.

“When pay scales are compared for primary and secondary education to that of Further Education those in FE feel like the poor relations in terms of the value they are providing to students,” he said.

“Students can arrive at Level 2 and be taken through to degree level in most courses, yet the staff in FE colleges are being paid substantially less than university lecturers; there is confusion surrounding the pay disparity for doing the same jobs as teaching staff elsewhere.

He added: “There have been chats for years surrounding more equitable pay but these have slowed down. Negotiations are poor and they just keep being offered a 1% increase year after year. He said no one wants to be out here, they would much rather be in the classroom but they feel like it’s a last resort. Public support has been good, students have arrived this morning with buns, the staff at Craic’d Pot brought coffees and Mace Armagh provided some hot lunch.”

Staff at Armagh's SRC on the picket line in dispute over pay and conditions

UCU Northern Ireland Official Katharine Clarke said: “We have been forced into taking this action because neither the employers nor the Department for the Economy have taken reasonable steps to close the education pay gap. Year after year we have seen pay awards for corporate staff prioritised within college budgets that far exceed pay settlements for lecturers.

“Those engaged in curriculum delivery have been treated as a second-class workforce within the system. UCU’s demand is simple, all staff in further education must be fairly rewarded for their work. There will be continuous disruption across the sector until those who hold the purse strings get real and start addressing lecturer pay in a meaningful way.”

Strike action at Armagh's SRC campus

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