Sheffield College lecturers to take action over job threats

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Lecturers at Sheffield College will be asked to ballot for industrial action this week over plans to axe 75 jobs.

College managers say cuts must be made because of Government moves to axe £4 million from its budget over the next two years.

But the college also has other financial problems, with income set to fall next year in any event.

Julie Kelly, regional officer of the Universities and Colleges Union, said the college seemed to be on the verge of a financial crisis.

“This is the third time since the summer that the college has been looking for redundancies and management seems to be on a mission to cut staffing levels as fast as they possibly can,” she said.

“There seems to be no attempt to extend consultations or seek voluntary redundancies - 75 members of staff, mostly lecturers, have been targeted for redundancy or having their posts downgraded and those redundancies will be compulsory.”

Miss Kelly said specialist teachers were the most badly affected group.

“These are staff who support students with learning difficulties of some kind, such as the visually impaired, those with dyslexia and who are deaf. All campuses are affected,” she said.

“We have very little option but to go into a dispute procedure and at meetings this week we will be discussing a ballot on industrial action.”

College chief executive Heather MacDonald said the college needed to develop a more commercial mindset and concentrate on strengthening links with the business community to increase income.

A reshaped curriculum would have a greater emphasis on courses offering skills training suitable for local employment options, she added.