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A great deal of grumbling

Dear Principal We met - briefly - on the stairs the other day. You were with the vice-principal. He asked me how things were going. I said: "Mustn't grumble", and you chuckled.

Now this little incident has been worrying me, and I've decided to come clean. You see, I deliberately misled you: I really should grumble. (I didn't want to upset you - I remember your strictures against the "whinge factor".) I've been pretty low lately, to tell you the truth. Things at work have been getting me down. Why, on the very day we met, two close colleagues came into college for possibly the last time - to get the details of their premature ill-health retirement settlements. That upset me.

And then there's this business about the new contracts (you knew I'd get round to this one, didn't you?). I really didn't want to sign the version(s) presented to me in time to qualify for the "lump sum" payment (which was, by the way, miscalculated).

Every man has got his price, I know, but a few hundred quid after tax didn't seem much of a deal for the contract I would be trading. Besides, we both had high hopes of a nationally negotiated settlement, didn't we?

I'm a bit miffed about the lack of a pay rise this year as I thought I'd worked pretty hard. And the withdrawal of overtime and remission hasn't really helped anybody - in fact, it seems to reduce the flexibility available to managers that you're usually so keen on.

I'm a bit cross that some people have signed the new contract. Not the management - one can hardly blame them because their new contracts are better than their previous ones. No, it's my academic colleagues who have signed who annoy me - there seem to have been some pretty good deals struck.

So there we have it. I feel a bit better having got that off my chest. Apparently my NATFHE branch is trying to open local negotiations now.

Let's hope they go well - if not, then maybe I'll be able to update you on my spirits as you drive through our picket line.

With regards, A lecturer.

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