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Wiltshire college staff in dispute threats
3:01pm Wednesday 24th October 2012 in News
Staff at Wiltshire College could take industrial action if they are not listened to over a bid to cut their holidays.
Union members have already passed a motion of no confidence in the college’s management team because of poor staff morale and a lack of communication.
In July the college told staff, without warning, that their holiday entitlement was being cut from 37 to 30 days a year and that on days over Christmas and Easter, when the college is closed, they will have to come to work.
The original decision did not apply to management but the college was forced into a U-turn. It scrapped most of the holiday cut, except the ruling that staff will have to be at work over Christmas and Easter. This will now also apply to management.
But staff are still angry at the holiday ruling, that they have not been consulted and that a restructuring programme that began last year has still not been completed.
More than 20 staff have lost their jobs in a bid to close a £2 million funding gap.
Norman Crowther, a national official for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said staff were frustrated and demoralised.
“They feel they are not being listened to over the holidays issue. They feel communication is poor and there is a lack of leadership,” he said.
“We are asking them to listen to the concerns of the staff. At the meetings I have attended it is obvious they care and they want to help the college succeed.”
He has written to the college governors with the vote of no confidence motion, which was agreed by 92.6 per cent of members from a 62 per cent turnout.
He says staff may discuss industrial action if they continue to feel ignored.
The restructuring programme began before Christ-mas and is led by vice-principal Andrew Clare.
Staff have complained about a lack of information and vision, saying the restructuring has been badly handled and has taken too long.
Several members of staff in areas such as human resources have been forced to apply for new posts and have left within hours of being told they were unsuccessful.
Mr Crowther said: “We are appealing to the management to sit down with staff and give them a clear direction.
“We feel that the management and the governors lack stability at the moment.”
Chairman of governors Steve Stone denied he has given principal Di Dale a timescale within which to pacify staff. He also dismissed the no confidence vote.
Mr Stone, who is set to step down next year along with vice-chairman Tim Mason, said: “When an organisation is undergoing a cost-cutting exercise there is always unrest. It is not the job of the governors to negotiate with unions. “I am confident the management team can sit down and work with the staff.
“They have to accept that we are in a difficult financial situation. The management is doing a good job, I am delighted with the success rates. Of course, that is down to the staff as well.”
He said he and other governors will be at staff briefings in the coming weeks.