Action at Cricklade

December 11, 1998

Industrial action is imminent at Cricklade College as staff protest against the sacking of whistleblower Andrew Murray and two union colleagues.

Members of lecturers' union Natfhe last week voted for industrial action stopping short of a strike over Mr Murray's sacking. Mr Murray, a national executive member of the union, played a key role in drawing attention to investigations by the Fraud Squad at the Hampshire college, which led to the suspension of principal Richard Evans.

The college has reduced a 1995 surplus of Pounds 700,000 to a Pounds 1 million deficit in 1997. Inspections in 1997 by the Further Education Funding Council found that the college's governance and management were "less than satisfactory" and that the college had "weak financial management".

The college's acting principal, Elizabeth Blakemore, argues that the redundancies were made for legitimate reasons not linked to union membership or whistleblowing. Natfhe has dismissed this explanation.

Natfhe will discuss action this week. It is expected that it will include non-cooperation and the "disruption in relation to the FEFC inspections", a Natfhe spokesman said.

Only 32 union members voted in the ballot, but the union said this was not too disappointing at the end of term. Almost 60 per cent of members voted in favour of action short of a strike, although the union was split 50:50 over all-out strike action.

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