From education to employment

Union plans a three day strike next week over new contracts.

Lecturers at Harlow College are planning a three day strike from Monday 11 June, as they continue their campaign to halt possible job losses and pay cuts.

The Universities and College Union (UCU) fear that proposed new job contracts will leave staff having to work more hours for less pay and fewer holidays.

However Harlow College Principal Colin Hindmarch claimed that the majority of teaching staff would be better off under the new contracts: ” Almost 80 per cent of our teaching staff are set to get a pay rise to reflect the new terms and conditions of their contracts.

“However, some staff may lose out as we reorganise the way in which teaching is delivered. We recognise that this is a period of uncertainty and are working closely with our staff to provide the support they need. This will include working with them to ensure we can best plan the way forward, which may involve retraining or finding alternative positions in the college.

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“This is not about job cuts as we will end up with 15 extra staff. This is about changing the way that our teachers and staff work, in order to improve academic standards. It is vital for our students and vital for the future of Harlow.”

UCU has already held a two day strike action in May which brought the college to a standstill and won student support including a rooftop demonstration.

Barry Lovejoy, head of further education at UCU, said: “UCU is concerned that the colleges proposals would have a damaging effect on the quality of provision. If the plans are implemented, 52% of teaching will be delivered by staff on non-teaching contracts. If college principal Mr Hindmarsh shares our concerns about quality, why is he refusing to discuss this and engage in meaningful talks to end the dispute, as recommended by local MP Bill Rammell? Threatening people with the sack is not the way to manage change.”

Bill Rammell, MP for Harlow, and also Minister for Further Education and Lifelong Learning, had previously spoke of his concern about the college and the effect of the dispute on students, and urged Mr Hindmarsh to enter into dialogue with the union to end the dispute.

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