UPDATE: UCU staff members at Bradford College have today (May 3) voted to strike. The result for Kirklees College is expected to be announced tomorrow (May 4).
Two cash-strapped colleges in West Yorkshire are being balloted for possible strike actions over plans to cut jobs and change contracts.
Bradford College, which received two government bailouts in December alone and has been hit with two recent notices to improve for financial control, announced plans in March to cut 75 jobs as part of an effort to tackle its funding deficit.
Meanwhile, Kirklees College, which was warned by the FE commissioner Richard Atkins last month that it may need “structural change” after it was given £1.4 million in emergency cash, has proposed a restructure which plans to axe 52 jobs.
The college is also planning changes to contracts which the University and College Union says could lead to increased workloads and worse terms and conditions for staff.
The union said the plans would “hit students the hardest” and urged the colleges to work to develop alternatives to cutting jobs.
“Job cuts would mean fewer learning opportunities for the people of Bradford and Kirklees, and a huge loss of valuable expertise at both institutions,” said UCU regional official, Julie Kelley.
“Members feel they have been left with no option but to ballot for strike action in order to defend jobs and working conditions. We want both colleges to halt their damaging plans and work with us to develop alternative approaches.”
The ballots at both colleges will begin tomorrow April 13 and finish on May 3.
Bradford College said it was “disappointed” that the UCU is balloting for strike action.
“Bradford College’s strategic recovery plan is focused on improving the quality of provision for students whilst achieving financial sustainability,” a spokesperson said.
“In some subject areas we have fewer students and therefore have to realign our resources. We are also introducing new roles such as curriculum and quality managers so that we focus on delivering outstanding teaching and learning.
“We are seeking to avoid compulsory redundancies and welcome any alternative proposals from staff and the UCU. We are therefore disappointed that the UCU is balloting for strike action, which we do not feel is in the best interests of students or staff.”