Two sides of the argument

May 8, 1998

THES reporters round up some of the latest industrial tribunal cases in universities and colleges

Wakefield College said this week it was facing a compensation bill of up to Pounds 300,000 following a decision by a Leeds industrial tribunal to uphold three lecturers' claims of unfair dismissal, writes Alison Utley. The three were selected as test cases after the college made 51 redundancies last year.

Lecturers' union Natfhe, which is supporting 35 appeals for unfair dismissal from the college, said the remaining cases would not need to be heard. "De facto the others have won as well," said regional official Iain Owens.

But the college is considering a "vigorous appeal" against the decision. "While criticism has been made of certain aspects of the consultation process involving Natfhe and the college, we are satisfied that the tribunal has recognised that compulsory redundancies could not be avoided and that the staff were not made redundant on the basis of their contracts or their age," said Steve Butler, human resources manager.

The redundancies were blamed on the need to make savings of Pounds 1.5 million every year since 1993.

The tribunal said it had "considerable reservations" about the consultation process and that appropriate consultation had not taken place between the college and trade unions.

Natfhe is now calling for college principal John Muskett, on sick leave since February, to resign.

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