STAFF AT a Yorkshire college group will go on a one day-strike next week in what a trade union described as “an increasingly bitter row” over redundancies.
The University and College Union (UCU) called the ballot over proposals which it said could see more than 140 staff lose their job at the Hull College group.
The college group has said that redundancy programme will result in the equivalent of 70 full time posts being lost of which 32 are in academic areas.
A statement said that is was also in the process of recruiting up to 45 potential new jobs through the delivery of commissioned work of its HCUK Training commercial arm.
It announced that HCUK had a secured a new £6m training contract yesterday.
The UCU industrial action takes place on Thursday next week. Hull College Group said last month that it was working on restructuring which could result in redundancies and new vacancies at Hull, Harrogate and Goole colleges which it runs.
The plans also involves the closure of three nurseries run by the group at Queen’s Gardens and West Park, in Hull, and at Goole College. The UCU said the latest cuts come on top of 385 college jobs lost since 2011.
Both sides have said that they are committed to resolving the dispute.
The Hull College Group has said that its campuses will remain open during the strike.
Following the strike, members of the UCU at the college will also begin working to contract.
The union said this meant its members would be refusing to work beyond their normal hours or during breaks, and will not undertake any voluntary duties.
The UCU said that more than eight-in-ten UCU members (86 per cent) who voted backed strike action, while 96 per cent voted in favour of action short of a strike.
The union said redundancy plans affect 60 lecturers as well as staff working in library and learning support.
Hull College group said the strike was the result of “a vote by approximately eight per cent of the Group’s workforce.”
A statement from the union said: “Several UCU branch officers are at risk of redundancy.
“Despite nursery staff putting forward alternative proposals, the college intends to close all three of its nurseries. The college has stated that it hopes to create around 70 new posts through a subsidiary company, HCUK Resourcing, to mitigate the impact of redundancies.”
However the UCU questioned how many of these roles will be available for those who are at risk of redundancy.
Last week a Hull College group statement said: “The backdrop to this consultation is the continuing challenging financial climate for the sector as well as demographic factors impacting on the number of 16-18 year olds in our catchment.”
UCU regional official, Julie Kelley, said: “Strike action is always a last resort, but after several years of redundancies, staff have said enough is enough.
“These plans are damaging for the college, staff and its students, as well as members of the local community who stand to lose out on vital learning opportunities.”
“We hope to meet with college governors in the coming days.”
HCUK Training, part of Hull College Group, has been awarded a contract to deliver workplace learning courses to enhance 5,000 people’s job prospects.
The project aims to reduce the risk of long-term unemployment.
HCUK has secured the £6m Humber Skills Support for the Workforce and Redundancy contract which has been funded by the European Social Fund (ESF), and the Skills Funding Agency.
HCUK Training will deliver the programme until March 2018 and will engage with employees of regional businesses within key employment sectors as identified by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The project will aim to provide funded training benefiting over 5,000 individuals.