LECTURERS AT Telford College may strike over proposals to transfer their employment to an external agency.
Under the plans, non-permanent teaching staff would not be employed by the college but by Protocol National, the UK's largest further education staff agency which operates primarily in England. Lecturers fear the move will affect their pensions and force down pay levels.
The Educational Institute of Scotland has confirmed that an "indicative"
ballot of its members at Telford is being held to gauge the extent of support for industrial action. The result is expected next week, but no formal action will take place until the new academic session if no settlement is reached.
One lecturer, who did not want to be named, said: "The staff are livid.
There will be strike action. We aren't being sacked exactly but, if we choose to come back, we come back as hourly-paid employees of this temp agency."
Another lecturer said: "There was no consultation - it was just brought in.
People are very angry and stress levels have gone through the roof because people don't know if they have got jobs after the holiday."
A statement issued by Telford College confirmed Protocol National has been contracted to "support college managers in sourcing well-qualified and experienced staff". The recruitment firm will provide Telford with a staffing co-ordinator which, the college says, would allow changing needs to be met quickly without disturbing students.
Rae Angus, principal of Aberdeen College, said it has used Protocol National to provide around 8 per cent of its staff for the past decade with no problems.
"No one's salary was cut, no one was disadvantaged and some people actually gained," he said.
Staff unrest has been building at Telford, under principal Ray Harris, according to staff. He advocated the introduction of hot-desking when the college moved into its custom-built new premises last year, which divested most staff of their desks and offices.
One lecturer commented: "It has been very unpopular but, in fairness, he has been been subject to the same change himself. It hasn't gone down very well, and some of the desks are now fixed for particular people."