Sixty two lecturers at Bedfordshire College of Further Education face dismissal by the end of this month unless they sign new contracts.
The college has told staff still on the old "silver book" contracts that if they do not sign the new contracts by the end of November, they could be dismissed and offered immediate re-engagement on new contracts based on those agreed by employers but not by Natfhe, the lecturers' union.
Richard Gorringe, chief executive of Bedford College, says signing the new contracts is vital to increasing the productivity of the college, which could face a Pounds 500,000 deficit by 1996. The new contract increases weekly working hours to 37 and cuts holidays from l4 to nine weeks a year. "If we do not make savings now then we shall have to consider compulsory redundancies. This is something I want to avoid. We have made important concessions. It is up to Natfhe to talk to us," said Mr Gorringe.
Consultations between the college and Natfhe failed to begin this week because of confusion over the college's decision to file notices which relate to redundancies, and then proposing to discuss dismissal and reinstatement instead. The union is now seeking legal advice.
Jane O'Donnell, Natfhe branch secretary at Bedford, said talks would not resume until they had taken legal advice. The union had made major concessions by accepting the need to move away from the silver book and had agreed to negotiate using the format, but not the content, of the College Employers Forum contract.
"All the changes the college has made are cosmetic. Natfhe accepts the need for compromise but it is not prepared to capitulate," she said.
Stourbridge College in the West Midlands, which planned to sack 2l of its most experienced lecturers by New Year's Eve over the same issue, has agreed a compromise collective agreement on a new contract which covers all staff including managers.