STAFF at Bridgwater & Taunton College could go on strike in the new year.

The news comes amid a pay dispute between members of the University and College Union (UCU) and bosses at the college, which has campuses in Bridgwater, Taunton and Cannington.

The UCU says members have voted for industrial action in a row over pay, with more than eight in 10 (83%) of staff polled saying they backed strikes.

UCU head of policy, Matt Waddup, said: "It is a testament to the strength of feeling about their treatment that UCU members have voted in such large numbers to take strike action.

"The college will face significant disruption in the new year unless it agrees to do more to address the pay and conditions of staff."

Staff at the college look set to join a second wave of strikes at colleges in England in the new year, after UCU members at six colleges took part in the first wave last month, including Bath College.

Nine other colleges, as well as Bridgwater & Taunton, backed strikes in ballots that closed on Wednesday, the union added, saying it would meet in the coming days to discuss the next steps in the action.

The dispute centres on the failure of college bosses to make a decent pay offer to staff who, the union claims, have seen their pay decline by 25% over the last decade.

The pay gap between teachers in colleges and schools currently stands at £7,000, it added.

A spokesman for Bridgwater and Taunton College said: "We are disappointed that a very small number of our staff members recently voted that they would be prepared to take strike action over pay.  

"We respect their right to take action within the channels that are open to them but it is important to realise 88 people voted in this ballot with a total of 73 members agreeing with strike action, the College currently employs 1,500 staff.

"If members decide to take action we will work to ensure any potential disruption will be kept to a minimum and ensure our students are not impacted by any action taken.

"Despite a decrease in funding across the whole FE sector in recent years, we continue to focus our resources on our goal, which is to support our students to achieve their full potential, gaining the qualifications and experience to equip them for future employment.

"We continue to lobby hard for Bridgwater & Taunton College and for the FE sector as a whole, for fairer funding.

"This includes collaboration with representatives from across the FE sector, ongoing discussions with senior officials at the Department for Education, the Treasury and with our local MPs to ensure they are fully aware of the impact of decreased funding in this vital sector.  

"In the meantime, we remain one of the most successful Colleges in the FE sector, as reflected in the achievements of our students.

"We seek external funding where possible to support investment in our facilities and resources, ensuring our students continue to benefit from the BTC Advantage, with access to the best resources, learning and enrichment experiences that we can provide.  

"Our staff members are crucial to this success and we recognise their professional focus on our student experiences, despite financial pressures."