Exclusive: College considers union call for principal pay cut as job losses planned

The University and College Union (UCU) has called on Cornwall College Group principal Amarjit Basi to take a pay cut to show solidarity with up to 60 staff set to lose their jobs through cutbacks.

And a college spokesperson told FE Week this morning that it has not ruled out this suggestion as negotiations progress with UCU officials.

It comes after the college confirmed to FE Week that it is looking at cutting up to 60 jobs “as part of reductions to back office and management to reduce our cost base, as well as some teaching posts, which are affected due to reduced recruitment on some courses”.

UCU regional official, Philippa Davey, explained that this announcement provoked it into requesting that Mr Basi should re-assess his own salary.

She said: “Our proposal was that the principal considers a pay cut. It was one of several put forward by the union in response to yet another new round of redundancies at Cornwall College.

“This latest announcement that up to 60 staff are at risk comes on top of three rounds of redundancies in the past 12 months. There have been ongoing redundancies for the past seven years.

“Meanwhile the principal received a total salary package of £229,000 in 2014/15, which was up from £210,000 the previous year – a 9 per cent pay rise.

“We believe if he were to take a modest pay cut that would send out a strongly supportive signal to staff that everyone is in this together.”

FE Week asked the college how Mr Basi planned to respond to the UCU’s suggestion.

A spokesperson replied: “We are currently in consultation with the unions and no proposals are off the table.”

He added: “The cost of our top 20 managers has reduced by 29 per cent since 2013.

“The principal’s salary has not changed while in post — the (UCU and SFA) 2013/14 figures represent 11 months in post (but) 2014/15 is a full year.”

The spokesperson also explained that a consultation had been launched with staff to find the “necessary savings”, and staff affected would be offered voluntary redundancy, redeployment, retraining or retirement.

“All affected employees will be offered guidance and support,” he said.

The college group struggled with a £9.1m deficit for 2014/15.

Sunaina Mann
Sunaina Mann

The dispute between the UCU and Cornwall College comes after FE Week previously reported that North East Surrey College of Technology (Nescot) principal Sunaina Mann earned a salary of £363,000 in 2015, making her by far the highest earning college principal in the country.

FE Week then exclusively revealed on May 19 that her husband that her husband, Jaswinder Singh Mann, was also employed as a consultant by Nescot to work on its controversial partnership in Saudi Arabia, the Jeddah Female College.

He was paid almost £200,000 in a contract that was not declared to college governors for 18 months.

A spokesperson for the college declined to confirm or deny whether the college failed to adhere to their procurement policy.

But in a statement, Ms Mann said that “robust governance arrangements” had “removed any conflict of interest” from the college’s arrangement with her husband.

A spokesperson for the Skills Funding Agency then told FE Week that it had requested “a report on the issue that has come to light, how it arose and what action Nescot are proposing to take”.

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  1. anonymous

    No CEO or top manager should be paid more than 10 times there lowest paid worker! This would mean more than just a modest pay cut. It is sickening that yet another principal gets to take home a large cheque while his ship is sinking and his crew being thrown over board

  2. disillsioned

    I am absolutely amazed that the situation has been allowed to get to this level. The past few years have seen endless redundancies which have severely limited the organisations ability to function. Governors and Funding agencies made little attempt to rectify this. The Groups strategic aim is the contribute to the economic prosperity of Cornwall. Is difficult to see how posting a deficit of £9 million helps achieve that goal. The organisation is ” top heavy ” with overpaid Senior managers. In most organisations a loss of this magnitude would be seem to suggest incompetence and would be a resignation issue.

    At Cornwall College the UCU seem to be totally powerless and have adopted a position of appeasement over many years. Its no surprise that they now have no teeth or credibility. I’m also astounded that the local press have never reported on the current situation. Would it be too cynical to suggest that they have advertising revenues at stake.

  3. disillusioned

    Sorry about the typing and spelling errors in my previous contribution—-I was angry and didn’t check it. Much more angry about the irrelevant posturing of the UCU than about the outrageous salary paid to the TCG CEO. I was a member for 12 years and consider it to be the worst £25 per month ever spent. I don’t suppose that any of the full time UCU national or regional officials have taken pay cuts to show solidarity with their beleaguered comrades !!

  4. I work at there on minimum wage full time and have to do a crazy amount of over time to just survive while he sits there on that. The staff being cut are key teaching members whilest other members of staff are taking huge pay cuts as well. Pathetic.

  5. disillusioned

    Ive just noticed that Cornwall College have issued a statement stating that the UCUs idea of the principal taking a pay cut has been rejected. They state that his salary is broadly in line with national rates for similar posts. They seem unable to realise that other principals on those scales haven’t brought their Colleges to a position of being 9 million in debt.

  6. If the College had achieved an outstanding judgement from Ofsted or had improved the service it offers to the local community in any way then the enormous salary the principal earns would at least provide the governing body with some kind of excuse. The reality is that the college has made no progress in terms of Ofsted rating and offers a vastly reduced curriculum offer to the local community it serves. Previous principals were paid significantly less (information publicly available in the college accounts) and did a much better job. Whoever appointed the current CEO needs to apologise to all the staff and learners at Cornwall college for the mess the college is in financially.