Staff at Bolton College were on the picket line for the last day of strike action amid calls for ‘fair pay’ in line with other colleges and the rise in the cost-of-living.

They walked out on Tuesday, as part of a three-day strike over pay and working conditions, and staff say that it was not a decision 'made lightly', and some have not taken strike action before.

The University and College Union (UCU) called off Tuesday’s strike action at three more colleges after members received last-minute pay offers, meaning 35 colleges have now accepted pay offers.

But English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher, Katie Hunt said that one of the reasons the 6.5 per cent pay rise offered was not enough, was because of the difference in salaries when compared to other colleges.

The Bolton News:

She said: “Those other colleges that have accepted the 6.5 per cent, the staff are on a higher salary than what we are on to start off with.

“It’s quite annoying because it makes you feel like you’re not appreciated, with the workload you put in and the hours that you put in.

“I love my colleagues and my students, but the pay is not enough.”

The UCU secretary Dr Jo Grady said: “The problem that we have got is that different colleges can adopt different approaches to what they choose to pay their staff.

“Here at Bolton, staff are paid some of the lowest rates of college staff in the North West.

The Bolton News: “We’ve got starting lecture salaries of £27k for qualified lecturers.

“The management here have received a funding boost by the Government.

“They’ve chosen not, as many other colleges have, to just transfer that over to a staff pay increase.

“So, we’ve got staff that are already struggling on a lower wage than anyone else in the North West, staff like everybody else who are suffering under the cost-of-living crisis, and which their management are refusing to pay them, even though the money that the Government’s made available is enough to cover that.

“It’s really time for Bolton College to pay staff what they are worth.”

UNISON president Andrea Egan says that staff are asking for a “decent pay increase”, and it is “not something beyond what the college can afford”.

Lecturer Karen Turner-Riley said: “Our starting point is so low compared to other colleges and that’s why we’re losing great staff.

The Bolton News: “In our department, I’ve only been here for years, and everybody has left apart from one person that I started with.

“We rely on the experienced staff, which gives you the quality of education.

“They’re all leaving because they can get more money elsewhere.

“Even with 6.5 per cent we will still be nowhere near other colleges.

“Many of us have got master’s and two degrees.

“I’ve got 30 years industry experience.

“We’re skilling people up and not everyone goes to university.”

Another issue highlighted by a senior lecturer was that staff are only to receive 3.5 per cent in December, and then the rest in April.

She said: “So, from September to the end of November we will have no increase, and then from December to the end of March we are only getting 3.5 per cent.

“It only goes to 6.5 per cent from April 1 to the end of the year.

“We want 6.5 per cent for the whole of 2023/2024, ideally backdated from September.”

A spokesperson for Bolton College said: “The college is aware that across the Further Education sector, there are differences in how staff are paid.

“This is due to the fact that colleges set their own pay arrangements based on individual affordability means.

“The college proposed an overall pay uplift of 6.5 per cent, with 3.5 per cent to be paid from December, and a further 3 per cent in April.

“This decision was made based on affordability.

“The college traditionally applies pay uplifts in April, but the suggested initial pay uplift of 3.5 per cent was brought forward to reward our staff before Christmas, in recognition of their hard work. “The proposal was not accepted by unions, and pay negotiations continue.”

If you have a story and something you would like to highlight in the community, please email me at or DM me on Twitter @JournoJasmine.