Background to the merger
The Union has been told the merger of Sussex Coast College (SCC) and Sussex Downs College (SDC), was to be one, as consistently told to us by management at both institutions, born of the ‘Sussex Area Review.’ As a result the merger was put in place to:
- Ensure the financial stability of both institutions ensuring provision of courses in the East Sussex area
- Make savings made through restructuring management and other support services
- Not impact upon the curriculum offer at either predecessor college
- Not be a takeover.
There is no doubt that since the announcement of the Area Reviews this has been an unsettling time for all members of staff. This has been exacerbated by the decision to merge institutions. The formal merger of the college will give the opportunity for the new management to give certainty to staff and the chance to rebuild trust and the goodwill of staff for the new institution. Therefore, it is important for the Union to set out the expectations of the Union and its members after the formal merger on 29 March 2018.
The Union therefore expects:
- Although the Union was instructed in a SDC meeting with management that there were no plans for harmonisation of pay the new management structure is on the SCC pay scale. Clearly, we expected this at some time in the future; however, the information provided and the decision making process has been vague and at times opaque. When harmonisation takes place we will expect it to follow best practice. To clarify the Union believes best practice to be staff are harmonised up to the most optimal conditions of each predecessor college – pay, holiday and teaching time. Let us be clear when we say ‘best’ this does not necessarily mean what is best from a management perspective. This is what happened when Eastbourne College of Art and Technology merged with Lewes College in 2006 – as experienced by many staff who remain in SDC
- The recent news of the end of the public service pay freeze and announcement of such pay deals as announced for NHS staff this month should augur well for a return to annual pay increases. Teachers and Lecturers at both institutions have received no, or negligible pay rises, in the last 7 years having seen a dramatic fall in wages in real terms. This is a scandal that any decent management must address if they are to have the goodwill of the staff which carries out the core business of the institution
- The institution should also seek to redress the difference in pay between the new institution and competing institutions such as BHASVIC and Bexhill where Lecturers can earn up to £38k. As the new institution re-brands itself it must also consider the retention of staff and its ability to attract the best teachers to the institution. This can be achieved by simply addressing the start and end points of pay scales
- The institution should also seek to redress the unequal balance in the SCC pay scale, which appears to have been adopted in the current restructure, where employees who are not on the Leadership and Management pay scale receive on average 50% less in their annual incremental rise on their pay scale. Every member of staff must receive an increase of at least 60p per hour
- The institution should also seek to address the Gender Pay Gap where the median difference between male and female workers is 15% per hour at SCC and 17% at SDC
- The institution should also seek to become a Foundation Living Wage employer and remove the lower points on their pay scale to eliminate in-work poverty.
The union believes that stress within the workplace has had a massive impact on
- staff absences
- staff turnover
- staff’s ability to effectively perform their role, increasing Performance Management activity
The Union therefore expects that the new institution will implement the newly agreed Workload Committee at SCC across the whole institution. The role of the Committee will be to monitor workload and address the burgeoning workload that has been placed upon Teachers/Lecturers.
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UCU Regional Official