Yeovil College

August 1, 1997

* Strikes could hit a West Country college as lecturers refuse to sign new contracts that would increase hours and cut pay.

Yeovil College managers have imposed new contracts on lecturing staff from today. They say that, after five months of failed negotiations with Natfhe, it was vital for financial reasons that they brought in the new contracts.

The Somerset college had a Pounds 1 million deficit. Repayments on a bank loan covering the deficit are about Pounds 85,000 a year. In addition, funding for next year has been cut by just under Pounds 200,000.

Rosemary Brooks, assistant principal, said: "We have explained the financial imperatives to staff and we really thought we were going to reach agreement with Natfhe.

"I think most people will sign the new contracts. We would not want a situation where the bulk of staff were on the new contracts and a minority on the old."

The new contracts will mean lecturers working an average of four hours more a week.

Some senior lecturers have had their pay frozen and, according to Natfhe, up to ten have had their salaries cut by around Pounds 3,000.

John Bryant, Natfhe regional support officer, said: "The local branch is determined not to sign the new contracts.

"It could lead to action which may take the form of a strike."

The union fears that the college may decide to dismiss staff who refuse to sign the new contracts.

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