College staff at risk of redundancy, claims union

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Lecturing staff at a college with campuses all over Argyll and Bute are in danger of compulsory redundancy, a union has claimed.

Teaching union the Educational Institute of Scotland (EIS) has also said that two lecturers in the hairdressing SVQ at the Rothesay campus of Argyll College have lost their posts as the course is not regarded as financially viable.

The college, which has nine campuses across the council area, has branded the EIS’s statement ‘inaccurate and highly misleading’.

However, managers also said they were in consultation with ‘a very small number of staff’ and were following the college’s redundancy procedure.

A spokesperson for the EIS said: ‘The college management have used the excuse that the number of students has to be offset against the rising staffing costs caused by the intention to sign up to the national bargaining framework.

‘They have failed to show what marketing has been done for the course this year thereby failing to show that they have attempted to increase student numbers.

‘Under terms and conditions nationally agreed with trade unions, further education colleges in Scotland should have all lecturing staff on permanent contracts after two years continuous service, harmonised annual lecturing salaries, and have written fulltime or fractional contracts, instead of being on ad-hoc hourly rates of pay.

‘Argyll College has been financially supported by the Scottish Funding Council to shadow the national bargaining framework for the past three years, but has only now begun making the necessary changes to contracts.’

John Kelly, from the EIS Further Education Lecturers Association, said: ‘Yet again we are witnessing an act of bad faith on the part of the people who run Argyll College.

‘The Scottish Government have funded the college along with other colleges across Scotland, in order that people throughout Argyll are given decent opportunities to learn.

‘Where has the funding gone if Argyll College now claim that they have no money to provide courses which others across Scotland have access to?’

A spokesperson for Argyll College said: ‘Argyll College is responsible for the efficient provision of tertiary education across a extremely challenging geographical area.

‘Like all public sector organisations, we are required to ensure that public funds are spent effectively.

‘These funds decrease, in real terms, each year and, accordingly, the college needs to continuously review provision to ensure we respond to shifts in demand as well as new opportunities.

‘This may mean that, from time to time, we decide to discontinue some courses.

‘It is not the college’s intention to engage in a war of words in public with EIS.

‘We are currently in consultation with a very small number of staff and we will follow the college’s redundancy procedure and comply with all legal requirements as we move towards an outcome.

‘We cannot comment further on individual internal scenarios.

‘We do, however consider the EIS statement to be both inaccurate and highly misleading.’