College risks Natfhe strike

March 28, 1997

Sheffield College is facing the possibility of a total shutdown after its lecturers voted for industrial action over plans to cut more than 200 jobs.

Members of lecturers' union Natfhe voted 56 per cent in favour of industrial action.

"We made it clear on the ballot form that members who were not prepared to shut the college down should vote 'no' to action," said Natfhe branch secretary Jenny Prideaux.

"But they said 'yes' and we will now try to negotiate with the management to avoid compulsory redundancies."

The further education college wants to cut 107 full-time equivalent posts from the academic payroll in an attempt to redress a long-term shortfall of almost Pounds 6 million.

Alan Biggin, the college's marketing manager, said that over 70 full-time equivalent positions had already been cut through voluntary packages.

"We are two-thirds of the way towards achieving our target, and we are still pursuing every other action to avoid compulsory redundancies.

"I wouldn't say I was confident we can avoid it, but we would only use compulsory redundancy if all other methods fail. I can't comment on how Natfhe will act," he said.

Natfhe has argued that the cuts are achievable without sacking teachers, and has initiated a local media campaign and petition.

Ms Prideaux commented: "The college seems to be more amenable to the idea of negotiating, but our members are saying enough is enough. In the past two years a quarter of the academic staff have gone.

"The members have a grim determination to see it through and we are prepared to shut down the college if we have to. We will make our ballot live within 28 days," she added.

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