Staff 'held to ransom' by college over new contracts

Staff will be £1K worse off under proposed contracts and will also lose annual leave and sick pay, says union

Julia Belgutay

Nottingham College staff will protest tomorrow over new contracts they feel are being imposed on teachers

Teaching staff at Nottingham College are due to stage a protest tomorrow in a dispute over plans to introduce new staff contracts.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) will be protesting outside a number of college sites at noon tomorrow, with the UCU accusing Nottingham College of “holding staff to ransom” and threatening to dismiss staff refusing to sign up to new contracts.

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Balloting for strike action

According to the union,  the proposals would leave over 80 staff more than £1,000 worse off, despite staff having not received a pay rise since 2010. UCU says the new contracts would also see staff lose up to eight days’ holiday, as well as cuts to sick pay and the removal of workload protections.

UCU members are currently balloting for strike action over the proposals, and the ballot is due to close on Friday. The union has urged the college to rule out any dismissal of staff and address the concerns of staff over the contract changes.

UCU regional official Sue Davis said: “Nottingham College is holding staff to ransom by threatening to dismiss anyone refusing to sign up to these new contracts. The college’s success is down to the hard work and dedication of its staff, but their goodwill is being severely tested.

“Expecting staff who have gone nine years without a pay rise to accept a pay cut of over £1,000, as well as attacks on their working conditions, is a real kick in the teeth. We have been negotiating with the college in good faith but their refusal to address our members’ concerns means we have been left with no option but to ballot for industrial action.”

'Efforts have been unsuccessful'

A Nottingham College spokesperson said: “UCU are currently balloting their members on strike action. As a result, it is clear that at the present time our efforts to reach a collective agreement on a more flexible and modern employment contract and ensure that all our roles are graded and paid in an objective and fair way have been unsuccessful. 

The spokesperson added: “We will continue to talk to UCU colleagues in an attempt to reach a collective agreement and avoid any strike action. We are currently in the process of writing to staff individually asking them to sign the new contracts.  If the college is unable to gain the consent of employees to the new contract then it will reluctantly and as a last resort need to consider the potential dismissal and re-employment of any individual who has not agreed to the new terms."  

The spokesperson stressed that eighty per cent of staff will be paid the same or better than currently. "Of the remainder, whilst some may see an initial reduction many will then see an increase to their pay over time. While we respect the rights of our staff to both protest and take industrial action, our priority is to ensure we do everything we can to ensure students’ studies are not affected and the college remains open.”

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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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