Workers at Kirklees College are planning four days of strike action at the start of the new term in September.

The strikes – which are set to take place on Monday September 11, Tuesday September 12, Wednesday September 20 and Thursday September 21 – are in a dispute over pay.

Public service union UNISON, which represents support staff at the college, submitted a pay claim to senior managers in November last year.

The union called for a 10% increase with a minimum rise of £2,000, backdated to September 1 2022, and for the college to pay the real living wage of £10.90 per hour.

The union said the college rejected the pay claim, saying it does not negotiate over pay.

Kirklees College has implemented the Association of Colleges’ pay recommendation for the 2022-23 academic year with staff receiving a pay increase ranging from 2.5% to 9.7% and a lump sum payment of either £500 or £750, depending on salary.

The union says the college has been forced to increase pay by over 9% for the lowest paid to keep up with the Government’s national living wage of £10.42 per hour.

Kirklees College maintained it would not engage in pay bargaining – leading UNISON to ballot staff. Over 80% of workers voted in favour of strike action.

UNISON Yorkshire and Humberside regional organiser Robin Symonds said: “College workers have suffered a decade of real-terms pay cuts and are now facing a cost-of-living crisis that will again force some to choose between eating or heating this winter.

“Senior managers have shown a complete lack of respect to their staff by refusing to even negotiate over pay, and workers have rightly said enough is enough.

“They are striking not just for fair pay now but for the right to negotiate in the future. It’s time for college management to get around the table and agree to workers having the right to bargain over pay, or risk a mass walk out in the new term.”

A college spokesman said: “Kirklees College is facing the same ongoing financial challenges that the FE sector is experiencing nationally. The college must ensure a sustainable future with affordable pay rate increase which does not inadvertently put jobs at risk.

“We welcome the recent Government announcement about additional funding for the FE sector and we are waiting for further information on this so that we can improve staff pay.

“We have had meetings with UNISON and we continue to meet with them to discuss staff pay. Kirklees College agrees with UNISON’s call for national pay bargaining, as set out at its summer conference in June, which is contrary to the local ballot.”