Staff and lecturers’ plans for more industrial action this week over 70 feared job cuts at Chesterfield College were postponed for a joint strike after a second trade union has joined the University and College Union members’ dispute.
Members of the NASUWT and UCU will now join forces to take action on Tuesday, June, 18, and Thursday, June 20, instead of original UCU disputes planned for Thursday, June 13 and Friday, June 14.
Union members are planning to man picket lines at the Sheffield Road and Infirmary Road college entrances from 7am on the two new dates after UCU members took strike action last week, on June 6 and said they planned further action if the college refused to revisit plans to make compulsory redundancies.
UCU regional official Anne O’Sullivan said: “UCU members took strike action last week because they have had enough of the way the college treats them. We are pleased our colleagues in NASUWT have also delivered such a strong vote for strike action and will be joining us on the picket lines next week.
“The college cannot continue to ignore our concerns about what more job losses will do to students’ education. We do not accept the college’s defence that prioritising millions of pounds on buildings over staff is the way to attract students to the college. Substance is always more important that style.”
The unions, who highlighted how over 100 staff have left the college through voluntary redundancies in the last two years, have called for negotiations around an improved voluntary redundancy scheme and to explore less damaging ways of achieving cost savings.
The college announced plans for job cuts after declaring a £4m shortfall and a need to reduce its workforce by 10percent to balance books.
It originally announced plans to make 70 staff redundant, but has since claimed there will now only be 43 job losses due to agreed voluntary redundancy and redployment plans.
Chesterfield College principal Trevor Clay claims job losses are necessary and unavoidable due to a reduction in the number of 16-18 year-old students, Government cutbacks with reduced funding, and a growing demand for work-led training for business employees.
He also argued the changing shape of further education with more buisness-employee related demands will call for different types of college staff with the prospect of creating new jobs in the future.
Mr Clay said changes should not affect the quality of students’ education and explained that a recent multi-million pound revamp of the college reception area was necessary to keep attracting students.