Members of the University and College Union at a London college are balloting for industrial action from today after the college moved to increase the number of casual contracts.
The dispute between UCU and the College of North West London has arisen from a college reorganisation designed to move 30 per cent of staff onto hourly paid contracts.
The union called the change a “flawed policy” and said if the hours are available then staff should be kept on more secure contracts.
Regional officer Una O’Brien said: “We have argued against the overall policy of moving staff on to hourly paid contracts. If the work is available then staff should be employed on a more secure basis. It is now up to our members to decide how to respond.”
A spokesman for the College of North West London said in May it issued a notice informing staff of possible redundancies in the context of a significantly reduced funding settlement for the current academic year.
“The 30-day consultation with all recognised trade unions was completed in June. At no point did union representatives raise any concerns about the ‘casualisation of the teaching staff’, and the College firmly rejects this suggestion,” the spokesman added.
The UCU has a long-running campaign against so-called 'casualisation'.
On Wednesday it held a 'day of action' at colleges and universities to highlight how both further and higher education are "overly reliant" on casualised staff.
It estimates 61 per cent of FE colleges employ teaching staff on zero-hours contracts.
The union is encouraging members to write to their MP to highlight the use of casualisation and the problems it creates for employees.
The dispute at the College of North West London is the second between UCU and an FE college in the capital this year, following the long-running saga at Lambeth College over changes to staff contracts.
Last month UCU members at Lambeth voted overwhelmingly to reject two new proposals put forward by the college to break the deadlock and are now seeking approval to ballot for fresh industrial action.
UCU strike off after High Court injunction - October 2014
Lambeth College row continues as UCU rejects new offer – October 2014
Lambeth College strikers return to work, but war of words continues – July 2014
Strike action looms at Lambeth College in row over staff contracts - May 2014