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Lecturers claim bias cost jobs

Borders College found itself for the second time in a year having to justify its handling of compulsory redundancies involving former lecturing staff when an industrial tribunal began taking evidence in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

Lesley Donaldson and Sheena Ramsay claim they were selected for redundancy as a result of union activities. Mrs Donaldson was secretary of the local College Lecturers' Association branch and a member of the CLA national executive. The case is likely to continue for a week.

Bob Murray, the college's depute principal, told the tribunal that funding changes and fluctuating student numbers required staff cuts. There had been full consultation with the unions before an announcement in January that seven lecturing posts would go.

Asked by Ian Trusscott, solicitor for the college, if there had been any anti-union bias, Dr Murray said: "We did not and would not do anything like that." Both the applicants had been allowed changes in their timetables to participate in union activity.

Pressed by Malcolm McKay, for the lecturers, over a history of poor relations with staff, Dr Murray said: "There appeared to be a lack of co-operation on the part of trade unions. Anything the management has brought up has been rejected or gone through by default."

Borders was taken to a tribunal last year by the Scottish Further and Higher Education Association over the sacking of Sandra Lewis, a lecturer at the college. Ms Lewis was awarded the maximum compensation at the time of Pounds 11,000.

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