Lay-off dispute sours relations;FE Focus

22nd January 1999 at 00:00
A bitter dispute has broken out between employers and unions at the college which once blazed a trail for labour relations.

The lecturers' union NATFHE and management at Manchester College of Arts and Technology have been at loggerheads since four members of staff were laid off last year. The union claims they were not consulted over changes in redundancy arrangements which they say have previously given staff 12 months' notice.

Two lecturers were issued with written warnings after handing out leaflets publicising a one-day strike over the issue last week, which led to management accusations of secondary picketing. The next day, the college announced it would be closing its trade union education centre in Stockport where the lecturers work. Now both sides are accusing each other of refusing to negotiate.

Such poor relations are a far cry from the halcyon days of 1994 when the college became the first to negotiate a deal with NATFHE following incorporation, and former principal Nye Rowlands shook hands with the then NATFHE general secretary John Akker at the union's conference.

The union claims management is victimising its members, who have been banned from using college facilities for union business. A number of cases alleging unfair dismissal and breach of contract are being prepared by NATFHE.

North-west regional official Colin Gledhill said: "The centre is a success story. It recently passed an audit of its student and income records with flying colours."

Vice-principal Barbara Forshaw said that the centre was being closed because the lease was about to expire and the change in redundancy terms had been prompted by financial concerns.

"There have been efforts by management to negotiate an appropriate redundancy procedure but they have failed."

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today