STAFF from Sparsholt College will be picketing the entrance for three days as they demand a pay rise to keep up with the cost of living.

The University and College Union (UCU) has confirmed that action will take place from Monday, January 9 to Wednesday, January 11 after management refused to make a 'realistic' pay offer.

The union says management can easily afford to pay staff a fair wage. The college’s most recent financial report shows it has more than £7m in the bank and has run a surplus for the past two years.

READ MORE: Unprecedented ‘cost-of-living’ college strike hits Sparsholt College

Three days of strike action have already taken place at Sparsholt this academic year during the long-running pay dispute. UCU argues that RPI inflation currently stands at 14 per cent and the college is based in one of the least affordable areas to live in the UK.

The college has offered an £850 consolidated pay rise alongside one off payments of £450 since the previous striking began.

The management team from Sparsholt College Group said: "We are saddened that an extremely small number of our staff members (22 out of 700 staff) recently voted to reject the improved pay award and may be prepared to take strike action. Our staff will always be our most valuable asset and we remain committed to remunerating our staff as best we are able. 

"We would like to reassure our students that they should attend College and University Centre as per their timetable, with both lessons and bus services continuing to run as normal."

UCU regional official Moray McAulay said: “The cost-of-living is pushing staff at Sparsholt College into poverty yet the senior management team seems to think it is can get away with holding our members’ pay down.

“The college needs to realise the only way it will end this dispute is by making staff a fair pay offer that helps them make ends meet. We know the money is there to pay staff properly and we are prepared to take escalating strike action until our members get what they deserve.”

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The picket line will take place from 8am-10.30am on Monday, January 9 and Wednesday, January 11 at Sparsholt College’s main entrance and on Tuesday, January 10 at Andover College’s main entrance.

Over the summer, UCU produced a report to show that the vast majority of college staff are financially insecure, impacting the mental health of more than eight in 10. Seven in 10 said they will leave the sector unless pay and working conditions improve.