College staff vote on strike action

Issue 585

STAFF at Kirklees College are being balloted on strike action over job losses and pay cuts.

University and College Union (UCU) bosses announced on Tuesday they had started consulting members.

The ballot of about 250 lecturers will close on Monday, June 10. The result is expected to be known that afternoon.

UCU regional organiser Julie Kelley said: “Staff have suffered pay freezes and job losses before, but enough is enough.

“Staff are angry at the situation the college has got itself in. We don’t believe compulsory redundancies are the way to resolve the problem.

“Strike action is always a last resort. But the UCU is worried that the quality of education will be affected by the proposed changes.

“It will inevitably mean bigger classes, reduced course hours and increased workloads for the staff that remain.”

The institution, formed in 2008 when Dewsbury College and Huddersfield Technical College merged, faces a £5.4m budget cut from September.

Mrs Kelley added that the college’s problems have been made worse by delays to a new £81m campus in Huddersfield.

She said: “The college’s decision to splash out on new buildings looks like having a devastating effect.

“Style is never a replacement for substance. Fewer teachers with bigger classes and increased workloads is a poor return for new buildings.”

Kirklees College principal Peter McCann said: “We’ve been working closely with the UCU throughout this restructure process.

“We are therefore disappointed that they have decided to ballot members on strike action.

“We have made significant progress to date with a voluntary redundancy programme and other forms of savings.

“We will do everything possible to avoid the need for compulsory redundancy but cannot rule it out as we have to operate within our financial means.”

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