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Taking action in higher education

Staff vote to strike at two of West Midlands biggest colleges

10 June 2010 | last updated: 11 December 2015

Staff at two of the West Midlands biggest colleges have today voted in favour of both strike action and action short of a strike in their fight to save jobs.

Members of UCU at City College Birmingham and Wolverhampton College will be out on strike on Monday 21 June, with members at Birmingham Metropolitan College voting to take action short of a strike.
At City College Birmingham 88% of UCU members who voted, voted for strike action and 93% voted for action short of a strike. At Wolverhampton 70% of UCU members who voted, voted for strike action and 92% voted for action short of a strike.
The news comes on the same day that UCU ended its dispute with South Birmingham College after the college withdrew its threat of compulsory redundancies. The union today called on the other colleges to urgently follow suit and not to make punitive cuts.
City College Wolverhampton has said that it is looking to make savings of £3 million with 160 posts at risk and over 100 jobs are at risk at Birmingham Metropolitan College. City College Birmingham is planning to get rid of 78 posts and to close its supported learning division which provides basic English and maths courses for homeless students, as well as support for disabled students and those with learning disabilities. In addition the cuts will affect classes in English for speakers of other Languages (ESOL).
UCU says that the cuts would hit some of the most vulnerable communities in the West Midlands and has accused the colleges of using the current funding difficulties in further education as an excuse to make cuts.
Caroline Gray, a UCU member who teaches at City College Birmingham, said: 'Staff have been left with little choice but to take this action. The planned job losses and closure of adult-supported learning our college will have a devastating effect on the local community. If these cuts go ahead they will hit some of the most vulnerable adults and disadvantaged people in Birmingham.'
Adam Dwight, UCU chair at Wolverhampton College, said:  'Let's be clear about what is at stake here. We are facing the frightening prospect of hundreds of trained teachers going on to the dole, and educational opportunities for thousands of people being put at risk. UCU members at Wolverhampton will do all they can to fight for their students and for their jobs.'
UCU regional official for the West Midlands, Nick Varney, said: 'It is a great shame that things have had to come to this. We would much prefer to be in meaningful negotiations and secure agreements like those at South Birmingham College. We are not blind to the troubles facing the further education sector and realise that there will have to be difficult decisions made. What we do not, and will not accept is colleges using funding cuts to unnecessarily sack staff or hold a gun to the heads of staff who fear for their livelihoods.'