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Borders sacking tribunal deferred

The industrial tribunal which is hearing the case of two Borders College lecturers claiming unfair dismissal has been adjourned until February to cope with the volume of evidence.

In its first four days last week the tribunal, sitting in Edinburgh, heard detailed evidence from Bob Murray, depute principal at the college, who rebutted claims by one of the lecturers that she was targeted for redundancy because of her union activities.

Lesley Donaldson, who was branch secretary of the College Lecturers' Association at the college, claims she had been marked down as having a poor attendance record after being one minute late for work.

Dr Murray said this surprised him, but added that other factors must have been taken into consideration. Asked by Malcolm MacKay, for the two applicants, what these were, Dr Murray replied that he did not know.

Mr MacKay then said that five other members of staff had been counselled about their attendance but that Ms Donaldson was the only one to be given a verbal warning, adversely affecting her score when it came to decisions on redundancies.

Ms Donaldson also maintains that the college management reinforced its manipulation of the scoring system used to identify candidates for redundancy by ignoring years of service, which is thought to have penalised long-serving union members.

Dr Murray said he could not recollect length of service being taken out of the scoring system although he accepted that this was an important criterion in taking redundancy decisions.

Ms Donaldson claims that, during a staff assessment interview, she was the only member of the lecturing staff not to be asked about her development of ties with business, and could therefore not defend herself against charges that she neglected them. She was eventually given the lowest possible score in this area, a factor which Dr Murray admitted was another key factor in her dismissal.

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