Staff at City College Norwich are voting on taking part in national strike action over pay.
Hundreds of employees at 14 further education (FE) colleges across England will take part in the ballot.
The dispute is over a national pay offer from employers which UNISON has rejected and described as ‘derisory’.
The vote on strike action follows a consultation in January involving 11,000 FE college employees. These included administration workers, learning support staff and those in finance.
UNISON head of education Jon Richards said:
“These are among the lowest paid workers in colleges.
“Many are struggling to make ends meet or even afford food. This pay offer is derisory – it’s time employers gave staff a decent pay rise.”
A recent UNISON survey found that one in eight members working in further education struggle to pay food bills, with one in 50 having to turn to food banks.
That’s why for its 2018-19 pay claim, UNISON asked for a 5% pay rise or a fixed increase of £1,500, whichever is greater. But the Association of Colleges recommended just 1% or £250.
In addition to Norwich City, the colleges taking part in the ballot over the national pay offer are Lambeth, Bradford, Leeds College of Building, York, Leeds City, Greater Brighton Metropolitan, Abingdon and Witney, Blackburn, Wirral Metropolitan, Bolton, Warwickshire Colleges Group and LTE Group (known as Manchester College). Liverpool City is running a separate ballot because its dispute also covers employment terms and conditions.