Contract change was voluntary

4th November 1994 at 00:00
The article about Huddersfield New College (TES, October 21) was seriously inaccurate, and contained a number of untrue allegations, all made anonymously.

Huddersfield New College has not introduced personal contracts except for the most senior staff. Other staff are invited to transfer voluntarily to a modified Colleges' Employers' Forum contract and some have accepted this offer. There are other colleges, including sixth-form colleges, which have much larger numbers of staff on personal contracts.

Existing staff who were not willing to transfer to the contract preferred by the corporation have been offered the opportunity to transfer to the Sixth-form Colleges' Employers' Forum, provided that agreement can be reached on the matter referred for local negotiation, that is, the working year. The corporation policy throughout has been that contract transfer is voluntary.

The policy of seeking increased flexibility in the pay and conditions framework of this college has been formulated by the employment committee of the corporation of which the principal is one of eleven members.

Staff on existing contracts have been promoted, in one case very recently, contrary to the assertion in the article.

Staff serve on two corporation committees, and are only excluded as required by the articles of government.

The anonymous allegation to the effect that staff have been told not to discuss college business with their husbands or wives is ludicrous.

The anonymous allegations regarding financial unaccountability and secrecy are serious. The corporation has an expert, and active audit committee and finance committee. It has devoted substantial time and resources to establishing robust systems of financial control and accountability, and rightly demands high standards from management staff.

It has provided the teachers' unions with considerable information, regarding Further Education Funding Council finance, and its impact on the college unit of resource, and regional union officials commented to the vice-chairman that the corporation was very open.

The corporation has throughout adopted a conciliatory approach and has been willing to continue discussions with the unions in an effort to reach agreement.

Efficiency in the deployment of staffing has enabled us to keep the norm for contact hours well below many colleges.

It is therefore regrettable that the unions have moved so rapidly towards an industrial action ballot, and have used anonymous and untrue allegations to engineer publicity.

The corporation has the duty to ensure that contract arrangements for new staff will meet the future needs of the college, and to certify this to the FEFC.

So far, it has not felt able to certify that the recommended agreement between the teachers' unions and the Sixth-form Colleges' Employers' Forum will meet the college's needs.

The corporation remains willing to meet and negotiate responsibly, and hopes that this will be reciprocated.

SHEENA J YEATS

Principal

Huddersfield New College

New Hey Road

Huddersfield.

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