VIDEO: Lecturers go on strike at Sheffield College sites over job cuts

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Lecturers at Sheffield College sites across the city are on strike today over a fresh round of cuts that could see up to 25 more jobs axed.

It is the second recent walkout in an ongoing dispute with the college, which employs more than 2,000 people and has over 20,000 students.

Lecturers picket outside Sheffield College as they protest against possible job cuts

Lecturers picket outside Sheffield College as they protest against possible job cuts

Lessons have been cancelled, with picket lines set up as members of the University and College Union hold a one-day strike.

It follows 13 compulsory redundancies being made earlier this year after the college initially consulted on plans to cut 75 jobs in a bid to deal with funding cuts.

The rest of the job losses were made up of voluntary redundancies and people moving to other roles.

The college is now consulting on plans to cut the equivalent of 25 full-time lecturer posts - resulting in today’s walkout.

Lecturers picket outside Sheffield College as they protest against possible job cuts

Lecturers picket outside Sheffield College as they protest against possible job cuts

The latest round of redundancies will also affect some business support staff and are designed to help deal with £3m Government cuts for the next academic year.

Campuses remain open but some lessons have been cancelled at the college’s sites in the city centre, Hillsborough, Norton and Crystal Peaks in addition to Fir Vale Centre, Hillsborough Barracks and Eyre Street.

Members of the UCU say they are also angry at plans to less-qualified staff to teach lessons.

John Giddins, regional organiser for the UCU, joined around 10 union members on a picket line outside the City site on Granville Road this morning.

He said: “Today is about a further round of cuts and redundancies.

“It is also about the de-professionalisation of lecturers and the introduction of lower-paid, lower-skilled and possibly unqualified people to teach the children and adults of Sheffield.

“It is a crucial fight to maintain quality and standards for the people of Sheffield.”

Chris Allen, joint branch secretary of the UCU, was also among those out on the picket line this morning.

She said she feared there could be around 15 compulsory redundancies as a result of the new cuts.

“It is undoubtedly the case there have been massive funding cuts from central Government but we are concerned about the way the college is actually responding.

“We have had various disputes with the college. This has come as part and parcel as attacks on lecturers’ conditions and pay.”

She said more walkouts may take place if the dispute is not settled.

Heather Smith, principal of Sheffield College, said: “We will do all we can to minimise the impact of industrial action on our students. We are updating our curriculum to offer new courses that ensure we are at the heart of skills training in the city, some of which require different staff skills.

“We also need to generate additional income and save costs in response to £3 million in national government funding cuts. Consequently, we have reviewed our staffing requirements and are making savings equivalent to 25 full-time posts.”

She added: “Whilst any job losses are regrettable, most of the required savings have been achieved through an enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme. We will do all we can to minimise any potential compulsory redundancies.”

Today’s walkout is being backed by the Sheffield College Students’ Union, who have called for both parties to find a solution and also lobby Government to protect education budgets.