College principals have reacted with fury to a letter from the Skills Minister seeking pledges on avoiding compulsory redundancies and are seeking legal advice, TESS has learnt.
The intervention by Angela Constance follows assurances given by First Minister Alex Salmond at the SNP's annual conference last month that all publicly-funded bodies will be required to adopt a policy of no compulsory redundancies.
Ms Constance has also threatened to summon those unable to give assurances over redundancies to a meeting with her officials to explain themselves.
But Scotland's Colleges, which represents principals and board chairs, believes this could infringe the charitable status of colleges which limits ministerial power to give direction to them.
Pending a fuller response, Scotland's Colleges has advised principals to write to the minister, saying they would do all they could to avoid compulsory redundancies but pointing out that "unfortunately, within the current economic climate, there will be occasions when this is the only option".