Strike vote over rigid job loss attitude

September 8, 2000

Hundreds of lecturers and managers at Sheffield College have voted for an indefinite strike in protest against threatened compulsory redundancies.

Union leaders said a ballot last week found that 87 per cent of the 583 lecturers, senior lecturers and managers who voted were in favour of a strike.

Representatives of Natfhe, the university and college lecturers' union, said they were "appalled" that Sheffield College chiefs had turned down more than 80 applications for voluntary redundancy.

The college, one of the biggest further education institutions in the country, is planning to shed 180 posts as part of a restructuring plan that was recommended following a Further Education Funding Council review.

Managers told union leaders in a meeting last Thursday that there had been 193 applications for voluntary redundancy or early retirement - but more than 80 had been turned down on the grounds that the applicants were "irreplaceable". The current round of talks are due to end today and about 70 compulsory job losses look likely.

Russ Escritt, Natfhe regional branch officer, said it was difficult to believe that the college could not avoid compulsory redundancies.

"We are appalled that they have turned people down when others who have been told their jobs are at risk could be moved into the vacant posts," he said.

Natfhe was hoping that Sheffield's new principal, John Taylor, would offer to find ways to avoid compulsory job losses at a final meeting held yesterday.

A college spokesman would not comment on the number of staff requesting voluntary redundancy.

Natfhe's general secretary, Paul Mackney, has met FEFC chief executive David Melville to discuss the situation, which threatens to disrupt plans to split the college into three institutions.

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