Lecturers' union Natfhe has called for a public inquiry at Matthew Boulton College of Further and Higher Education in Birmingham in anticipation of large-scale redundancies, writes Phil Baty.
New principal Christine Braddock, who took up the post in April, has confirmed that she is conducting a "re-evaluation" of the college's financial and strategic position and that a restructure will lead to redundancies.
She conceded that the college was in serious financial difficulty, but insisted that final redundancy figures were "under review".
But Natfhe claims that the college intends to axe 59 jobs to curb a Pounds 3.71 million debt. The college has not met some of its targets for student numbers and faces a claw-back of its funding council grant.
The union is blaming the crisis on previous bad management. "Matthew Boulton College has been a thriving municipal technical college for 100 years," said a Natfhe spokesman. "Five years of incorporation and bad management has left it decimated. Why should lecturers pay with their jobs when it is the ex-principal and the funding mechanism which are to blame?" Ex-principal Tony Colton is criticised for failing to foresee the crisis and leaving with a large pension resulting from a salary, understood to be over Pounds 70,000. In the 1997 annual report he commended "prudent management".
Natfhe members declared their willingness last week to take industrial action, up to and including a strike. The college has initiated an internal inquiry and the union has demanded that it is made public.
The chair of governors, Barry Seager, resigned this week. Both Mr Seager and Mr Colton were unavailable for comment.