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Lambeth college defends principal's pay rise amid staff strike over working conditions

The London college at the centre of a bitter trade dispute over changes to staff contracts increased the pay for its principal’s post by more than 13 per cent last year, it has been revealed.

Lambeth College principal Mark Silverman (pictured above) was paid £149,991 in 2012/13, 13.6 per cent more than his predecessor earned the year before.

A spokesman for the college said Mr Silverman was appointed in February 2012 on a salary of £144,500. Skills Funding Agency figures show the previous post holder was paid £132,000 in 2011/12. The spokesman said this was the vice-principal deputising in the role and the previous full-time principal was paid £142,386.

Mr Silverman was later awarded a 3.8 per cent pay rise as a part of conditions set out by the board of governors for achieving performance targets and a successful Ofsted inspection.

The figures show that half of London’s college principals saw their pay stay the same or fall between 2012 and 2013.

UCU regional officer Una O’Brien, who covers Lambeth, said: “The message this sends to students and staff is that while others must tighten their belts, those at the top will carry on regardless.

“After this latest embarrassing revelation, the time has surely come for the principal to at last agree real dialogue with the staff and their unions so we can end this dispute and get on with serving our community.”

UCU staff at Lambeth are in their second week of indefinite strike action in a dispute over changes to staff contracts. Staff starting after 1 April this year have different contracts, which UCU claims will leave them with bigger workloads, less sick pay and fewer holidays.

But the college says the changes are necessary to gradually bring about modernisation, as well as to help it reduce its “unsustainable” budget deficit of £3.5 million.

Mr Silverman has called the action “regrettable”.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week, UCU members were joined on the picket lines by members of the Unison trade union, whose support staff at Lambeth backed a two-day strike over changes to their own conditions that would affect working hours and sick pay.

A spokesman for Lambeth College said it has remained open during the strike and the majority of classes are running without disruption, with all exams and assessments taking place as planned.

However the college admitted some areas, including provision of English as a foreign language, provision for students with learning difficulties and some parts of science had been affected, but insisted that plans were in place to manage the situation.

“We continue to ask the union to call off their strike and we can then talk about securing the future of the college,” the spokesman added.

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