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Harlow College lecturers will take strike action to defend jobs

11 May 2007 | last updated: 14 December 2015

Teaching staff at Harlow College have voted for strike action as part of a campaign to defend their contracts and jobs.

The strike vote follows management attempts to impose contractual changes with huge salary cuts for many staff.The proposals would:

  • cut wages by up to £13,000
  • make many staff redundant
  • cut leave entitlement by over three weeks
  • force staff to work up to 56 hours a week including Saturdays
  • remove health and safety protection such as a maximum number of weekly teaching hours

Despite supposedly being in a consultation period with the UCU on proposed new staffing arrangements, the college management has already begun internal advertising of newly defined posts on revised contracts.

At a meeting of the college UCU branch on Thursday (10 May), the union announced the result of its members' ballot. 76% of voting UCU members supported strike action and 85% supported 'action short of a strike'. The branch agreed to plan a programme of industrial action to back its demands for negotiations.

Non-strike action ('action short of a strike') will include a boycott of the newly advertised college posts of principal tutor, senior tutor and tutor. UCU says this will continue 'until such time as the college management meaningfully engages in formal consultation with a view to reaching agreement on the appointments process and job roles for posts - and negotiations on reasonable contracts of employment and pay scales.'

The UCU branch also agreed to take strike action, but the date for this has not yet been chosen.

Other activity is also planned, including a public meeting at 1pm on Saturday, 19 May 2007 at  Harlow sports and social club.

A petition has also been started, calling for Governors of Harlow College to 'immediately intervene to safeguard service to the community by safeguarding conditions of staff on campus.'

Barry Lovejoy, national head of further education at UCU, who will be speaking at the May 19 rally, said: 'Harlow College's management has created a conflict which can only damage the college's reputation and damage the educational interests of the people of Harlow. It is not acceptable in the 21st century for managers of a public service to behave like 19th century mill owners, demanding more work for less pay on threat of the sack.

'Dedicated professional teachers deserve better than this and the college's students do not deserve the disruption which this management style seems determined to create.

'The college management has so far rejected external calls to take account of the views of its staff. I hope this ballot result will change its mind. I urge local people and their representatives to back these teachers and tell the college to change direction.'