You will already be aware of our sister union the UCU’s call to their Members across the Further Education Sector to undertake a campaign of non-continuous Strike Action, which is continuing from 2023. This action is due to the paltry and unacceptable imposition of a 1% pay rise by College Employers for the past two years. As well as strike days, I understand that UCU members are also committed to undertaking industrial action short of strike on an ongoing basis. It has also just been confirmed by the UCU that it will be calling upon its members in all Colleges across NI to undertake further strike action next week on 18 January 2024.  Your colleagues will be joining over a dozen other trade unions, including NIPSA members across Health and the NICS who will be on strike on that same day. You may have already seen recent media coverage with regard to the sectors which will be heavily impacted by this significant day of action.

This is to reinforce NIPSA’s support for all pay campaigns and, in particular, for the wide-ranging show of solidarity by trade unions across NI next Thursday.  This struggle is very real for all public sector staff and NIPSA sends solidarity to all strikers in their fight for a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. To demonstrate your support, we would encourage all NIPSA members to visit picket lines, send messages of solidarity to your striking colleagues and only undertake work appropriate to your own post and grade. All NIPSA Officials will also be visiting picket lines on 18 January and further details of any rallies will be provided by our General Secretary in due course, which I would encourage you to also attend.

You may well receive another letter from your College Employer about the UCU industrial action. No NIPSA member should feel obliged to undertake duties that are not within your job description which could undermine the industrial action being undertaken by another union’s members. This has been and will be made clear to Management Side in any Colleges where such undermining action is suggested. If you or any of your NIPSA colleagues have any questions or are concerned that you are being directed to do something which is outside the normal range of your duties and you believe you are being asked to do so to specifically undermine UCU’s Industrial Action, please contact your Branch Committee in the first instance for advice and guidance. Your NIPSA Official can also be contacted if you require any further information. You will recognise that NIPSA lodged a separate pay claim in June 2022 on behalf of NIPSA, Unite and Unison members as part of the NJC Green Book Part 3 terms.  Whilst we continue to press both the sponsoring Department for the Economy and the College Employers at NTSNC level, no real progress has yet been made. It is therefore possible that, at some point, NIPSA and our sister unions representing non-teaching staff will be consulting on actions that members can take themselves to encourage progress in the negotiations. UCU’s fight is also our ongoing fight so please show your support for the UCU’s pay campaign and do not undermine the industrial action mentioned above.

I would also call for solidarity for your NIPSA brothers and sisters across the NICS and Health Service who are also continuing their fight for pay justice. NIPSA members will be taking to picket lines across those Sectors, including NDPBs sponsored by the NICS, on 18 January in a continuation of their own pay campaigns. These colleagues have fallen even further behind their GB counterparts in terms of pay parity and continue to be treated unfairly by the Secretary of State as a direct result of his punishment budget for all Public Services across NI. It is clear that money is available for public sector pay in NI, yet the SoS continues to refuse to use it to improve our public services, choosing instead to treat public sector workers as pawns in his political blackmail campaign to get the NI Executive restored. This is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated by any union or it’s members. Next Thursday will be the strongest message yet of strength and solidarity from workers to shout loudly - enough is enough! Fair pay NOW!

Demonstration of your solidarity and support for your NIPSA and other JTUS colleagues as they escalate their Industrial Action campaigns next week would be greatly appreciated and well received.

Finally, may I take this opportunity to wish you a happy and healthy 2024.

In solidarity with all Strikers and hope to see you on the picketlines on 18 January!

Assistant Secretary