Campaigning Against College Cuts

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2011 Local Government Service Group Conference
25 February 2011
Carried as Amended

Conference is outraged by the savage funding cuts being inflicted on Further Education and Sixth Form colleges by the Tory led Government. Cuts that will both threaten large scale job loses in colleges and lead to increasing hardship and deprivation in the communities that our colleges serve.

Conference notes that many of the colleges facing the biggest cuts are in those very same communities already being savaged by this Tory led Government’s cuts to local authorities and other vital public services.

Conference is appalled that in England alone the Tory led government has announced:

1)A 25% cut in the adult education and skills investment budget by 2014

2)The axing of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), means tested grant for students from low income households

3)The abolition of the Train to Gain workplace training programme that saw at least a million employees receive training under the last Labour Government

4)The axing of the right to full fee remission for many people on benefits such as Income Support, Housing Benefit, Working Tax Credit and Pension Credit

Conference notes that to make matters worse some college principals are using the funding cuts as an excuse to launch savage and unnecessary attacks on our member’s terms and conditions. In particular conference utterly condemns the moves by some colleges to cut sick pay entitlements. A vindictive move that will simply punish people for being ill rather than save money

It is clear that only an immediate and robust response will both serve to defend UNISON members working in colleges and the right of our communities to education and training.

It is also clear that the Tory led Government’s cuts to the devolved nations are already starting to hit colleges in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland very hard.

Conference is shocked at the 10.4% spending cut in funding to all Colleges in Scotland. This has had a massive impact leading to many jobs losses including compulsory redundancies. There has also been an increase in class sizes, cuts in courses, and cuts to services that support students for example, those who assist students with special needs.

Conference also condemns Scotland’s Colleges for refusing to speak to the Scottish Government about ways to stop compulsory redundancies and their refusal to discuss National Bargaining. UNISON is highly concerned that Scotland’s Colleges are behaving in a manner that is unaccountable and unacceptable.

Conference supports the campaigning work and protests organised by the Scottish FE sector about funding in the sector.”

Conference therefore calls on the Service Group Executive to:

a)Establish a campaign group consisting of UNISON, NUS, UCU and all the other college unions to help coordinate joint action against college cuts and ensure similar groups are set up across the devolved Nations

b)Support branches taking lawful industrial action to defend college jobs, pay, conditions and services within UNISON’s rules and procedures

c)Produce briefing materials on college funding for UNISON representatives to use locally when campaigning against job cuts and attacks on terms and conditions

d)Produce guidance and campaign materials on shared services for UNISON college representatives

e)Build on the alliances made during the “Save EMA” campaign to launch a broader campaign to defend the right of all learners to a publically funded college education

f)Where appropriate, make the materials produced suitable for use across the UK

g)Make sure the College sector plays an active role in UNISON’s Local Government Pension campaign, a further potential cut to our members terms and conditions.”