Botched Barnsley College restructure results in staff shortages

15 August 2014 | last updated: 10 December 2015

UCU has accused Barnsley College of wasting public money and putting students education at risk following a 'botched' restructure resulting in 29 vacancies within affected departments.

The union says that, following the restructure announced in June, the college dismissed many existing experienced staff so that it could replace them with workers on lower salaries and inferior contracts.

UCU believes that the college failed to follow a proper consultation process, as staff were presented with the new structure as a fait accompli and within a few days were expected to make choices about their futures.  As a consequence, many staff were being slotted into new jobs before the legally required 30-day consultation period had ended.

The options presented to staff were to apply for one of the newly created jobs, many of which had been downgraded with lower salaries and inferior contracts which had not been negotiated and agreed with UCU, or take voluntary redundancy.

At a consultation meeting in June, the college had estimated the restructure would save between £500,000 and £600,000. It has now been confirmed that the actual savings are double that at £1.2m.

UCU regional official, Julie Kelley, said: 'We are astounded that as a consequence of restructuring Barnsley College now has 29 job vacancies. The college has rushed through a botched restructure, losing many experienced staff who were utterly demoralised by the way they were treated.

'Now we are only a month away from the start of term and 15 of the job vacancies are in student-facing roles. Presumably, the college is confident it can fill these vacancies at lower rates of pay and with inferior terms and conditions, but we are not convinced. The real danger now is that students could start college in September without experienced permanent staff in place to teach their courses.

'We are appalled that income derived from the public purse is being misused in unnecessary redundancy payments and future ongoing recruitment costs.'

UCU members at Barnsley College are currently being balloted for strike action over the restructure.

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