Staff call for resignation of Hull College Group chief executive

19 April 2018

Staff at the Hull College Group have backed a vote of no confidence in chief executive officer Michelle Swithenbank.

UCU members in the Hull branch (which covers the Hull and Goole campuses) overwhelmingly backed the motion which calls for her immediate resignation. UCU members in Harrogate and Unison members had already backed the motion.

The vote comes just a day after UCU members at all three sites overwhelmingly voted for strike action to defend jobs. The college wants to axe around a third of the workforce through restructure proposals which would see the loss of 231 posts. The union said it expects to announce strike dates in the next few days.

UCU said Swithenbank's position was now untenable after a failure to defend jobs at the college and a bizarre 24 hours which saw the management team attempt to bully and then bribe staff not to attend a protest against the running of the college.

On Tuesday the college sent staff an email claiming that the lunchtime protest, organised by the Hull Trades Council, could be illegal. UCU said attending the protest was legal and the college was either willfully misrepresenting things, or did not understand basic employment law.

Then on Wednesday morning the college tried a different approach, inviting staff to purchase discount ice creams and sit on chairs and tables at a venue at the opposite end of the college to the protest. The college hired the ice cream van from 11am to 1pm - coinciding with the protest.

UCU regional official, Julie Kelley, said: 'Staff have made it quite clear that they have no confidence in Michelle Swithenbank's leadership and want her to resign immediately. To go from bullying to bribery in less than 24 hours highlights the chaotic shambles at the heart of Hull College leadership.

'Staff need someone running the college who will talk it up and publicly defend its staff and students. The college should scrap damaging plans to cut jobs and courses, and work with us to develop a more positive approach which meets the needs of local people.'

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