MEMBERS of staff at Craven College, Skipton took to the picket line last week for three consecutive days of strike action.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) joined other higher education workers from across the country to take part in the strike action over low pay and poor working conditions.

Between 20 and 30 Craven College staff joined the picket line on different days, with other union members supporting them but staying at home.

Strike action was called off at 32 colleges in England after receiving pay offers at or above employer body, the Association of College's, recommended 6.5 per cent - but an offer made to UCU members at Craven College was turned down. Further strike days could now take place.

A spokesperson for striking members of staff said: "Craven College staff are striking for the first time in 16 years after management refused to respond to negotiations. They are the only college staff in Yorkshire that have not received suitable offers from management and one of only eight in the country that are still left to settle disputes."

The spokesperson added staff were not just striking because of pay, but because of working conditions, with full time staff expected to work between 70 and 80 hours per week.

The spokesperson added that senior management had chosen to "give out free pastries and coffee during strike days to non striking staff and explaining that it was due to all their hard work for the academic year. This was highly insulting for striking staff as it indicated that we had not been working hard during this period."

A Craven College spokesperson said: “The college is disappointed that UCU members have voted to take part in industrial action, however, we do fully respect their right to do so.

"The college recognises the hard work and commitment of all college employees and currently, we are in the process of obtaining approval for a staff pay award, which our staff have been informed about.

"During the three-day UCU national strike action, the college remained open and we continued to provide teaching and learning to ensure there was minimal disruption to our students by this industrial action, and that they remain at the heart of everything we do.”

UCU general secretary Jo Grady said: "Our members are being forced to take three days of strike action because some college bosses would rather see their staff use foodbanks than give them a cost of living pay rise. New money from government has now arrived and many colleges have done the right thing and raised pay by at least 6.5 per cent. The funding is there, where employers can pay more, they should pay more.

"Members have voted to stand down action at colleges that have acted reasonably and tabled a decent pay offer. But where bosses are hoarding money, instead of investing it in staff, we will not shy away from striking."