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UCU wins for Herts members and applauds college

11 August 2006 | last updated: 15 December 2015

Staff at a Hertfordshire college have been spared from the Hobson's choice of taking a pay cut or redundancy, after successful negotiations between the University and College Union and the college's management.

A restructuring of managers at North Hertfordshire College meant that approximately 37 existing managers were invited to apply for 21 management posts. The curriculum managers unsuccessful in their application were offered redeployment in the lower grade position of lecturer with a resulting pay cut, or the option of taking an enhanced redundancy package. Six managers felt unable to take the redundancy package and UCU began negotiations with the college to alleviate problems these staff faced.

The college began the restructuring in April because the government's new priorities for further education mean colleges must focus on young people and improving adult skills, which has resulted in significant cuts in the funding for other adult learning. The college's response to this was to plan a restructure to create a more focused management team.

However, after constructive negotiations between UCU and the college principal, who also consulted with the college's corporation board, it was agreed that staff would have their salaries protected for an agreed period at current rates, get new job titles and keep some of their higher level responsibilities. This had an immediate positive impact on their pensions and morale. The costs for the college, while higher than originally budgeted for, were modest and affordable.

Liz Martins, UCU regional official for further education in Anglia, said: 'This college, like others in the area, found itself facing a financial squeeze due to new government funding priorities for further education. These staff have worked hard to get where they are and of course they have bills to pay, so taking a pay cut would have been very difficult and demoralising for them.

'We applaud North Hertfordshire College for treating its staff with dignity and respect by doing all it could to protect the affected staff from the impact of immediate pay cuts. Several other colleges in the area are in the middle of similar reorganisations and are threatening staff with pay cuts which we believe will affect their recruitment and retention of good quality teachers. In contrast North Hertfordshire has raised morale amongst all staff which will improve quality of teaching and benefit its students.'

College Principal, Fintan Donohue, said: 'The Board of Corporation has been highly supportive in adopting a strategy designed to strengthen financial health while sustaining the morale and motivation of the workforce. The Board is committed to modernising pay and because we took timely action to reduce overall operating costs we have been able to award a 3.5% pay rise to the whole workforce for 2006/2007. We are very pleased to have resolved the outstanding redundancy issues to the satisfaction of UCU, the individuals and the corporation.'

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