THE SMALLEST and newest further education union hopes to land a knock-out punch on colleges this month in an industrial tribunal case. If its case succeeds, it could cost colleges at least pound;500,000 in claims for back pay, holiday money and overtime, the union contends.
The case, brought by the Lecturers Employment Advice and Action Fellowship (LEAF) against Havering College, London, will test two key points of law relating to the transfer of colleges from local authority control in 1993.
The union will argue that FE colleges are "emanations of the State" under European law. As such their staff should have been able to benefit from a European directive on working time two years before it officially came into force on last October. This could mean that thousands of part-time staff should have been entitled to four weeks' holiday pay over the previous two years.
The next issue concerns the imposition of the new contracts on staff who enjoyed the Silver Book conditions of service before 1993, forcing lecturers to teach six or seven hours more a week and cutting down holidays by four weeks or more. LEAF is arguing that these staff should be able to return to their old contracts and those whose pay was frozen are entitled to compensation for unlawful discrimination.