Redundancies are not ‘necessary’

COLLEGE PROTEST: Staff at Chesterfield College are seen campaigning against cuts.'Picture submitted by Greg Kurcewicz.
COLLEGE PROTEST: Staff at Chesterfield College are seen campaigning against cuts.'Picture submitted by Greg Kurcewicz.

PRINCIPAL Trevor Clay says in last week’s Derbyshire Times that compulsory redundancies at Chesterfield College are both necessary and unavoidable.

Many staff at the college would disagree. This includes members of the two teaching unions recognised at Chesterfield College, UCU and NASUWT, who have voted by overwhelming majorities to take strike action.

We argue that the compulsory redundancies being pushed through at the college are both unnecessary and avoidable.

The job cuts also threaten real and lasting damage to the key element of any educational institution - its dedicated staff.

Trevor is right to point out that Government cutbacks have severely impacted Further Education colleges.

However, Chesterfield College has made choices about how it spends a portion of its resources and appears to prioritise prestige building projects such as the new reception area and the new Queen’s Park sports complex.

New buildings are wonderful, but not at the expense of the staff who deliver education and training to our community.

Trevor also states that the “college will keep delivering the same range of quality courses”.

Of course, the staff at the college, the very people who are now under threat of the sack, will continue to strive to serve our students with all our skills and professionalism.

However, the college management have themselves stated that the staff restructure at the college, which has led to the threat of redundancies has “the potential to significantly destabilise areas, and compromise success rates and a successful inspection”.

This is now the third year in a row that redundancies have been introduced at Chesterfield College. In the past two years we have experienced a situation where we have been told in May and June that we are ‘overstaffed’ and that teachers have got to go.

Then at the start of the new academic term in September, the college has found out that there are not enough staff to teach the courses and has had to hire hourly-paid and agency staff to fill the gaps – in some cases re-hiring the very same people who had been declared ‘redundant’ only weeks previously. We have put forward concrete proposals which seek the re-deployment of staff from areas of the college which are ‘overstaffed’ to those areas which are understaffed, as an alternative to sacking valued and experienced trained teachers.

It is a positive sign that the College management has now put forward some proposals to avoid compulsory redundancies in future years. But staff still face the sack, now.

Trevor Clay, as principal of the college, should withdraw the threat of compulsory redundancies. Then all of us at the college can get back to focusing on what we do best- striving to deliver quality education and training to our community.

James Eaden

University and College

Union, Chesterfield College