Union to ballot Sheffield on strike

Union leaders at Sheffield College are preparing to ballot members on strike action over proposals to cut 2,000 hours of teaching and axe around 230 jobs.

College governors have ordered the move to cope with a long-term debt.

But members of lecturers' union NATFHE have condemned the move, warning that any attempt to impose compulsory redundancies would face industrial action.

Branch secretary Jenny Prideaux said: "The whole of our thrust is to avoid sacking the teachers. We believe the work is there because that aspect of the books balance."

She said the union was about to ballot on strike action, but had also launched a local campaign and a petition against the cuts.

But principal Ken Ruddiman said cuts were essential to reduce the college's Pounds 5.9 million deficit.

He said managers were confident of cutting hours without hitting students. "Compared to other colleges I don't think we are doing badly," he said.

Meanwhile, lecturers at Accrington and Rossendale College could start an indefinite strike next week after narrowly voting to take action in support of branch secretary Pat Walsh.

Members voted 47 to 46 to take action last week after Mr Walsh, a leading left winger on the executive of lecturers' union NATFHE, was made redundant on the last day of last term.

As The TES went to press lecturers were awaiting the outcome of a final union meeting on possible strike action.

Mr Walsh said he was delighted at his colleague's support. He said: "The very fact that 47 people were prepared to ballot to go on an indefinite strike themselves is confirmation itself.

"They are fighting for one person, although there is a more fundamental principal at stake."

Principal Michael Austin said any action would be simply an exercise in "shaking a fist".

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