Birmingham college staff to strike over 34 job losses

1 July 2015 | last updated: 10 December 2015

Staff at South and City College Birmingham will be on strike tomorrow in a row over plans to axe 34 jobs.

UCU members will be on picket lines outside the Digbeth, Bordesley Green, Hall Green and Handsworth campuses from 7.30am. The strikers will then gather for a rally in the Irish Centre in Digbeth at 11am.

The jobs are in various departments including construction, student services, and supported learning - which focuses on students with learning difficulties. The college will also cease to run courses for offenders at Swinfen Hall and Winson Green prisons.

Staff are angry at the college's proposals to make more staff redundant after 13% of its staff (146 employees) agreed redundancy packages and will leave at the end of the month. Three-quarters (75%) of UCU members who took part in the strike ballot, voted in favour of strike action over the compulsory redundancies.

The government wants to slash 24% from adult education budgets - a move described by UCU as an act of willful vandalism that would lead to around 400,000 people losing out on opportunities to improve their skills. The union has been part of a cross-sector campaign calling for greater investment in further education which on Friday 26 June delivered a petition with over 42,000 signatures to Downing Street.

MP for Birmingham Perry Barr Khaled Mahmood spoke out about the funding cuts in the House of Commons earlier this month. He warned that without additional funding all the talk about manufacturing and engineering recoveries will amount to very little.

He said: 'It is important for us to provide the right sort of support in areas such as Birmingham and my constituency if we are to move forward and allow people to get back into employment and into apprenticeships.'

UCU regional official, Teresa Corr, said: 'South and City College Birmingham has already lost more than 10% of its staff and we don't believe it is necessary to axe another 34 jobs. We are talking about potential students with learning difficulties, prisoners and people who need that second chance at education missing out because of these cuts.

'We do not believe that the college has sufficiently explored alternatives to these extra job losses and believe the money could be saved in other ways. Once they are gone, they are gone for good and some of the most disadvantaged areas of Birmingham will suffer for it.'

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