£400,000 pay-off to bosses angers union

London college bosses have been accused of “double standards” amid claims that former senior managers got pay-offs totalling more than £400,000 while other staff had been denied a pay rise.

Barnet and Southgate College gave former principal Marilyn Hawkins £203,000 in severance and related payments following the merger with Southgate College in November 2011, the University College Union (UCU) has claimed.

She received just under half of the £409,000 pay-off pot shared by six departing senior managers, said the union, which claimed to have referred the payments to the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office.

It is further claimed that the college had failed to honour a nationally-agreed pay rise for staff of 0.7 per cent — a total of £173,000, and less than Mrs Hawkins’s pay off.

Meanwhile, the union said the college’s chair of governors had ignored repeated written requests for an explanation of the senior management pay-offs following the merger.

Chris Powell, UCU London regional official, said: “While former bosses share thousands of pounds, staff are denied a measly pay rise that won’t even cover the increase in their pension contributions.

“Staff pay at the college has fallen by 20 per cent in real terms in recent years, despite workloads rocketing. We do not believe spending more than £400,000 to pay six people off is a good use of taxpayers’ money.

“Our members at the college are deeply angered by the double standards demonstrated by the college and its failure to respond to their valid concerns.

“We are not convinced this is an appropriate use of public money and are referring the matter to the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office.”

The union said the principal pay-off came to light after it had submitted a Freedom of Information request.

A spokesperson for the college said: “Barnet and Southgate College has been in discussion with the recognised trade unions regarding a possible staff pay award and is in the process of implementing a pay award.

“Since our merger, we have concentrated on harmonising terms and conditions that have resulted in staff receiving a total over £350,000 this financial year alongside other non-financial improvements to terms and conditions.

“Our priority has always been safeguarding the college’s current financial status to ensure the successful future of the college.

“With regard to salaries and payments for ex-senior members of staff, we are unable to provide any further comment.”