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Barnsley College workers strike for conditions

3 April 2015

Members of the University and College Union at Barnsley College are in dispute over restructuring plans that will bring worse pay and conditions. A series of strikes was suspended in February, but restarted with four more days' action in the week ending 20 March.

Workers were stirred to action by the threat of downgraded jobs, less holiday entitlement and a move towards performance related pay. A rolling programme of strikes was planned. A three day walkout in January was to be followed by four days in February and five in March.

The action received good support amongst University and College Union members and an effective picket was held, with classes being cancelled. Management indicated the possibility of concessions at talks on 24 February. Strikes were suspended, but later talks broke down triggering resumption of the action.

There has been an almost total absence of coverage in the local newspaper, the Barnsley Chronicle. Whether through oversight or deliberate policy, this has concealed the dispute from widespread public view.

This dispute also serves as a warning for the teaching unions. The fragmentation of further education colleges into independent fiefdoms has seen attempts to impose local conditions undermining national agreements. This is being emulated in the school academies programme.