Union members balloted for strike action at South Downs College

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) at South Downs College are being balloted for strike action, in what the union describes as a “row over new contracts”.

UCU claims that the college has threatened to dismiss staff who refuse to sign up to new contracts, which it says “would lead to worse pay and conditions for staff”.

The ballot opens today (Thursday June 2) and closes on Monday June 13.

The union cites a pay cut of around three per cent for lecturers, as well as reductions to annual leave and redundancy notice periods among its concerns.

The union’s regional official Moray McAuley said: “These are deeply damaging proposals, and staff are understandably angry at plans to dismiss staff who refuse to sign away a significant chunk of their salary and annual leave entitlement.

“Staff are dismayed at the actions of a senior leadership team, including a principal earning more than the prime minister, cutting their pay at the same time as leaving their own salaries intact.”

The Skills Funding Agency (SFA) College Accounts list the South Downs College principal’s salary as £149,000 in 2014/15.

Mr McAuley added: “Imposing these new contracts would be bad for staff and students alike.

“South Downs is an outstanding college but these changes will make it harder to attract the best teachers and lecturers.

“The college urgently needs to rethink its plans and work with UCU to address members’ concerns.”

A spokesperson for South Downs College told FE Week: “It is disappointing that the union has chosen to ballot for industrial action whilst consultation is taking place. We will be working with unions and staff to find a solution and to maintain our high standard of education for our students.”