We are not amused

October 27, 1994

Your article "Lecturers' hours deal for Natfhe" (THES, October 14) describes Roger Ward, Colleges Employers Forum's chief executive, as "very amused" by this college's collective agreement on lecturers' contracts. In this college, we are not amused by Roger Ward's activities.

The CEF's contracts strategy has caused industrial relations havoc in many colleges, where bitterness and division must now be threatening quality targets.

The College of North West London withdrew from the CEF in despair in April. We have cut 160 lecturing posts in two years. Lecturers are fearful of the new funding regime. We do not have a climate here where trust or "management guidelines" can be substituted for some reasonable contractual safeguards. We also need to offer pay and conditions to attract and retain qualified and talented staff.

We have now resorted to our own solution. Our inherited problems included generous Brent agreements. Our new contract sweeps these away and offers significant productivity gains -- new annual hours of 828 alone accounting for 10 to 20 per cent of the gain. The terms apply to all staff. And there is to be a joint review in 1996 to ensure the contract continues to meet needs.

We estimate the CEF takes Pounds 1 million out of colleges each year. With many colleges struggling to find a way forward on their own, the sector must surely now be asking itself why?

MICHAEL SHOEFIELD Principal The College of North West London

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