Merger-related bonuses for senior staff spark union anger

James Watt College has been criticised for making almost pound;60,000 in bonus payments to senior staff for their work on two college mergers.

The college said it offered payments of up to pound;5,000 to senior managers for additional work they carried out in relation to the mergers that will create Ayrshire College and West College Scotland.

But the EIS union has condemned the payments, which were given to managers during the 201112 academic year and repeated this year.

"At a time when funding for teaching and learning is on the decline, and cuts are being made to course provision throughout the FE sector, payments of this type would seem to be extremely difficult to justify," a spokesman for the union said.

"Many other members of staff, including lecturing staff, had also been involved in merger-related activities, but had not received additional payment."

The payments were uncovered by the EIS following a Freedom of Information request. Eleven members of the college's senior management team received the payments for this academic year, with eight receiving the money last year, information released by the college shows.

A college spokesman told TESS that the money was to reward staff to "effectively carry out two full-time jobs, with additional hours and a lot more travel involved".

Making additional payments in such circumstances is "common practice throughout the further education sector with the payments reflecting the workload that members of staff have undertaken over and above the responsibilities of their job pre- and post-merger", the spokesman added.

James Watt College is currently involved in two mergers as part of the Scottish government's regionalisation of the college sector. This will see the college split, with the Greenock campus joining Reid Kerr and Clydebank colleges to form West College Scotland, and the Ayrshire campus merging with Ayr and Kilmarnock to create Ayrshire Regional College.

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