UNISON has launched an official dispute with Nottingham College after members were told that they could lose their jobs – just as they broke for their summer holidays.
General secretary Dave Prentis has written to the Nottinghamshire branch pledging support.
The union registered the official dispute after it, and teaching union UCU, were only told about the plans to delete the equivalent of 165 full-time posts on 7 July – after the formal end of term on 4 July.
By that time, many members had already gone on their holidays. On top of that, many of the workers are on term-time only contracts, leading UNISON rep Carol Warren to say: “This could not have come at a worse time.”
In total, some 385 workers are at risk of redundancy, says the college, which was formed recently by the merger of the city’s Central College and New College.
Because many of the affected workers are on term-time only contracts, UNISON is warning that the college’s timing means that meaningful consultation on the collective redundancies – which is required by law – will be “very problematic”.
Branch organiser Jo Myers added that, “despite UNISON asking the college to share its plans for staffing structures and possible redundancies for the past 14 months, we still have not had sight of either the college’s strategy or a business case for the removal of selected posts.”
The college is looking for voluntary redundancies, but the numbers it is talking about will still mean huge cuts to the workforce, says the union, and this will affect courses, the support available to students and the smooth running of the college.
And while the college is also planning to create 126 new posts, many of these will be on lower pay – and in some cases, the pay and job description has not yet been finalised.
Ms Warren – a term-time worker herself – said that she is “determined to support our members” and pledged “a campaign to do all that we can to protect jobs and pay”.
She added that the support the members have received from Nottinghamshire branch “is amazing”.