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83.7% Vote To Strike At NATFHE Ballot Action

The lecturers” union NATFHE is recommending strike action at Bradford College on Wednesday 8th December. Due to budgetary constraints, Bradford College has unfortunately had to withdraw on a 3% pay increase from April 2005. “In the past the college has always honoured cost of living pay awards, but unfortunately the college in its present financial position prevents us from implementing this year’s pay award at this time,” said Bradford College Principal Michele Sutton. At the recent NATFHE ballot for industrial action, 83.7% of college NATFHE staff members voted to strike on Wednesday.

Martyn Moss of the NATFHE Yorkshire and Humberside Regional official commented, “Nobody likes to strike or lose pay. But nobody likes doing a job for less than others doing the same job. Lecturers pay still lags behind that of teachers. We were promised a formula for catching up and a deal is a deal. And now college governors are also trying to impose a new teaching post of “trainer/assessor” on a support staff contract, undermining lecturers” professionalism and attempting to further worsen their terms of employment. The governors refuse to negotiate on this matter. The college claims to be in financial difficulties, but NATFHE believes that hard working lecturers should not have to pay for the difficulties which management has created for our members and students.”

In comments made in late November, Paul Mackney, the General Secretary for NATFHE said, “The FE sector now struggles to attract and retain staff. Many lecturers are leaving because salaries have still not caught up with those in schools.”

Michele Sutton who has only recently joined Bradford College as Principal has found herself joining at a difficult time, as she was not a part of the original negotiations with NATFHE. She is now facing the unique challenge of keeping her staff, learners and Governors happy. In a statement released earlier today, Sutton emphasized that the college was doing everything possible to minimise disruption caused by the NAFTHE action. “Naturally the college regrets any disruption to students caused by this action,” said Sutton. Commenting on NATFHE strike action, Sutton said, “We regret that NATFHE feels it necessary to take this action, but we hope it will be possible to resolve our differences with NATFHE in discussions over the coming weeks.”

Bradford College has over 40,000 learners and a £50 Million turnover. In a recent interview with FE news at the AoC conference, Michele Sutton explained how the college investment in its staff gave it the ability to remain at the forefront of FE delivery. She commented that Bradford College had set up innovative partnerships with schools, colleges and training providers for staff development as well as to enable a more flexible learning solution tailored to learners needs in the region. Let’s hope all is resolved in the college soon and that staff and management can continue to develop their learner orientated approach.

Gavin O’Meara

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