Senior college managers are increasingly hostile to trade unions and show an "obscene" and "foolish" enthusiasm for the private sector, delegates at the Trades Union Congress annual conference in Liverpool were told this week.
Dr Alastair Hunter, president of the University and College Union, proposed a motion at the event condemning the "continuing drive" to privatise education and called for "proper funding" for both further and higher education. The motion was backed unanimously.
Dr Hunter said: "One of the most poignant effects of the recession is the threat of an entire lost generation of young people: lost to employment, lost to education, lost to training; condemned by the raw force of capitalism's self-immolation, and by its ludicrously costly redemption."
He called it "economic madness" to pay young people to be on the dole when universities and colleges could be funded to teach them. But he said it was not just students that were suffering.
"We confront increasingly anti-union managements whose unbridled desire for the private sector is as obscene as it is foolish. They persistently drive down wages, drive up casualisation, and look for confrontation as if to justify their dogmatic managerialism," he said.
"This is the world of raw capital that the trade union movement fought so hard to tame. This is a return to victimisation of workers on a calculated and grand scale."
Dr Hunter later met a delegation from Tower Hamlets College, where staff are on indefinite strike over proposed job losses and provision cuts.
A spokesman for the Association of Colleges said: "We simply don't recognise the picture being painted. All of our colleges negotiate with the unions at local and national levels and we've reached numerous agreements, including this year's pay-rise offer of 1.5 per cent."
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