Strike cancelled after college gives compulsory redundancy assurance

Strike cancelled after college gives compulsory redundancy assurance

Planned strike action at Hull College has been called off, after bosses gave assurances that there would not be compulsory redundancies.

The strike had been due to take place yesterday (October 20) after being postponed from last week (October 13).

But the University and College Union decided not to go ahead following “positive talks”, and no further strikes are planned.

Julie Kelley, UCU regional official, said: “Strike action is always a last resort and we are pleased that on this occasion we have been able to negotiate a resolution which avoids the need for industrial action.”

A Hull College spokesperson said: “Following positive consultation with our recognised trade unions Hull College Group has achieved the required savings it needs to make through a voluntary and redeployment process, negating any need for compulsory redundancies for academic or support staff.”

The row follows the college’s announcement that it would make around 70 redundancies and close its three nurseries before the end of the year, to address a £2.6 million deficit.

A ballot that closed on September 30 resulted in almost nine in 10 UCU members (86 per cent) who voted backing strike action, while 96 per cent backed action short of a strike.

Staff had been due to walk out on October 13, but the union announced the day before that it was suspending the action as there was a chance of reaching agreement without striking.

At the time the strike was announced a college spokesperson had said it was “in consultation with trade unions and staff regarding a proposed redundancy programme.

“The group is also in the process of recruiting up to 45 new jobs as part of our highly successful HCUK Training commercial arm as we significantly grow our apprenticeship and commissioned work to employers.

“All of these new roles and jobs are being offered as redeployment opportunities for staff which will significantly mitigate job losses.”

Since 2011, the college has seen 385 job losses through redundancy, according to the UCU.

A previous strike in May, over pay and a controversial new lesson observation system, ended in a payrise for staff and an end to the no-notice observations.

Karl Turner, MP for Kingston upon Hull and former shadow attorney general, had joined college workers on the picket line five months ago supporting the dispute over pay and the lesson observation system.

He ended up calling for an investigation into the college’s chief executive Gary Warke, after he was allegedly sent a “threatening and derogatory” letter.

The MP uploaded a copy of the letter to his blog, in which Mr Warke allegedly wrote to “express my sincere disappointment that you chose to address striking UCU members without the courtesy of informing me”, adding: “We find your actions, two days before local elections, highly inappropriate and disrespectful to the Hull College Group.”

Speaking ahead of the planned strike ballot in September, Mr Turner told FE Week that “redundancies have become a yearly exercise at Hull College, which will not help staff morale”.

He said: “It is deplorable that many staff found out about redundancies during the summer holidays, reducing their ability to organise effectively, and have an input in the consultation period.”