Staff lodge vote of no confidence in college chief

3rd June 2011 at 01:00
Strike ballot follows lecturers' disquiet over threatened redundancies

Lecturers at Edinburgh's Telford College have lodged a vote of no confidence in principal Miles Dibsdall and are balloting on industrial action over threatened redundancies and cuts to courses.

An EIS spokesman said members, who make up around 90 per cent of college staff, felt they had been left with no other option to communicate their "disquiet" over recent events at the college.

Following a budget cut of pound;2.4 million, up to 70 jobs and a number of courses were said to be under threat. Senior management has been in negotiations with the union to discuss alternatives to the cuts proposed.

The EIS said its members had lost faith in the principal, and questioned the integrity of the ongoing negotiations. Cosmetic exercises aiming to provide "a veneer of accountability" were not effective mechanisms to involve staff, it said.

An assurance by the principal that cuts and redundancies this year would mean no further redundancies for the following two years had been revoked and many felt disrespected and manipulated by the manner of Mr Dibsdall's approach to them, it continued.

Faith had been lost in his ability to advance the best interests of the college and his grasp of curriculum issues.

Mr Dibsdall told TESS he was disappointed by the vote: "I have always been upfront and honest about how the Government's cuts would impact on the college, which meant telling staff that we could not make any promises of no compulsory redundancies now or in the future. That would have been unfair and unrealistic.

"I have never deviated from seeking to be open in all our dealings with staff."

He said the number of staff positions under review was 65 (full-time equivalents) when the initial announcement was made in March. Senior management had spent all their time identifying curricular and service areas where efficiencies and savings could be made to ensure the college was best positioned for the future.

He added: "We have already managed to save the veterinary nursing course, as well as events, which is a significant achievement for us in light of the Government's cuts."

The ballot on industrial action will close next week.

Principal issues

Principal Miles Dibsdall came to the college in April 2010. He introduced dramatic changes to its management and course structure to cut costs, and rejected a proposed merger with the city's other colleges, Jewel and Esk and Stevenson, which he said could have compromised Telford's "journey of discovery".

In an inspection report published last month, HMIE praised the leadership of the new principal, who stripped out the college's senior management team, including the post of deputy principal. Earlier this week, Telford won the Association of Colleges Beacon Award for its work with international students.

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