Lay-offs spark Jewel and Esk strike vote

August 18, 1995

Ballot papers on industrial action are today going to staff at Jewel and Esk Valley College following the compulsory redundancy of three academics.

The further education college says it has suffered a budget cut in real terms of about Pounds 650,000, and cannot make savings without staff cuts. It said the board had agreed to axe 40 posts, almost 9 per cent of the 450 staff, but there had not been enough applications for early retirement and voluntary severance.

But Jack Dale, further and higher education secretary of the Educational Institute of Scotland, said the union did not agree that the redundancies were necessary: "We concede that they have a financial problem and it will be some years before the situation stabilises, but we do not believe these three members of staff could not have been carried forward to next year, and a new attempt made to find more volunteers."

The results will be known a week on Monday, and the EIS has promised financial support if the branch votes for strike action.

But there is growing unease within the EIS College Lecturers' Association and University Lecturers' Association over internal restructuring, which they fear reduces the staff in their sectors.

Mr Dale's post at assistant secretary level is being axed, and he will take early retirement in December. "I feel that my post has been made redundant, and an offer of alternative employment was unacceptable to me," he said.

There will be a national officer post, but the further education officer, Ken Wimbor, was last month appointed assistant secretary responsible for legal matters.

"Whoever is going to take over now will be a rookie," said CLA convener Joe Eyre. "There will be new regional officials expected to look after all sectors, but our concern is that they will be so tied up with school issues that there will be little time for further education."

The CLA has asked the EIS to ensure that the changes do not dilute the level and quality of the service and has asked general secretary Ronnie Smith to report by September on how this has been done.

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