Bradford College branch would like to thank those who have sent solidarity messages so far. In no particular order:
In the call for solidarity we received this from Nita Sanghera:
Bournville College pledge solidarity with Bradford College. We know, very well, what it is like to be left high and dry by the incompetency’s of management. As one of the first colleges to be part of the FE Commissioners Area Review the members were the ones that had to pay.
We fully support your call for a democratic governance; only interested parties, that have been crushed by the constant barrage of cuts and austerity measures can really know the true impact of constant attacks on terms and conditions, which translates into a fundamental attack on education itself.
Just wanted to wish our colleagues at Bradford a message of support.
A democratically run system with proper representation of unions and students is the way forward.
We have seen years of mismanagement, of colleges run as businesses rather than as Further Educational Institutions that support and belong to their communities. What has happened at Bradford is a lesson for us all and your decision not only to challenge the system but offer a positive solution is a clear and brave guideline for us all.
We at Leeds City College UCU offer our full support.
UCU LCC branch
Leeds City College UCU Branch
Solidarity! Please pass on solidarity from West Midlands region and Halesowen College UCU and let us know of any way we can support you.
West Midlands Chair
This looks very good. well done with that. Solidarity from Londonmet.
London Met Branch Secretary
Following an announcement last month that the College is to be scrutinised by the FE Commissioner and it has fallen into inadequate financial health, the local UCU branch has decided that this latest crisis is the final straw. Following successive years of pay freezes, redundancy rounds and the dismantling of terms and conditions, members are now calling for a fundamentally different approach to the way in which their college is managed.
At a branch meeting held last week, a motion passed unanimously resolved to present four fundamental alternatives to the ongoing mismanagement of the College including the introduction of a democratic management structure in which, competent governors, elected union officials and students are provided with appropriate information and resources in order to be actively involved in strategic decision making.
The branch also resolved to ballot for industrial action in the event of management addressing any financial weakness through a reduction of expenditure on staffing other than that of the Executive or any move by the College to worsen the terms and conditions of UCU members.
The Branch is requesting messages of support and seeking advice from anyone who have experience of developing worker co-ops.
Joint Press Release
Following a meeting with management earlier this week, the staff Unions UCU and Unison were shocked to learn that the 3 year budget finalised and presented to ESFA in July 2017 was now claimed to be widely inaccurate by the newly appointed Finance Director, who commenced post over the summer. However, it was also stated that the employer wanted to move to a position of building up its reserves to in excess of £6.6M and therefore a new 3 year budget and recovery plan needed to be drafted and will be presented to the Corporation in December. It is believed that the debts that have been caused by investment in new buildings (£4million per annum to service that debt) may be a significant factor in the apparent change to the forecast and the unions await a more detailed analysis of the finances.
Concerns have long been raised by the joint trade unions over the £50M David Hockney Building since (before) its inception and specifically whether the design was going to be fit for purpose. Since its opening in  unions have continually raised health and safety concerns about the building [sufficient space for teaching learning and staff, appropriate space class rooms and labs, concerns over monitoring of open spaces, heating, lighting, noise ,floor power points, potentially unsafe banisters] and the fact that many staff are having to deliver teaching and learning in ‘open zones’. These issues have detrimentally impacted upon both the learning and teaching experience due to excessive noise levels, fears of being overlooked and staff wellbeing. Indeed, some fee paying HE students have had to sit on the floor for lessons. Management have previously claimed that the college is 84% underutilised whilst teaching staff are reporting an increase and regular use of these zones for formal teaching sessions. Some staff and students have no access to a classroom at all throughout their timetable. The unions are deeply concerned about the negative impact this has on teaching, learning and achievement at college as well as the serious implications for staff stress and well-being. A petition, currently signed by over 100 staff has called for college management to end the use of ‘open zones’ and to guarantee appropriate teaching spaces for staff and students.
This is just one example where the concerns of staff have not been listened to with regards to the history of the College. This is in the context of front line staff being made redundant in recent years and their pay frozen in comparison to an increase in both the number of senior management post holders and their (overall )pay and an eye watering £3 million spent on consultants. Despite the increase in spending on senior managers, this has not resulted in the healthy and vibrant college that the people of Bradford need and deserve.
The FE commissioner also visited the College last week and staff unions have requested sight of all the information that was shared with the commissioner so that we can feed into any strategic review/ plan. So far this information has not been provided.
This union branch notes the following developments in the college:
- A grade 3 OFSTED inspection report;
- A fall in both student enrolment and income in the College’s HE sector;
- Increases in the College’s repayments on its loans;
- Increases in the number of staff recruited from agencies;
- Substantial increases in payments to consultants;
- The resignation of the College Group’s Chief Executive.
Clearly, the College is in yet another crisis; a crisis created entirely by management, not the workforce. Management need to provide timely and acurrate information. We resolve to present four fundamental alternatives to the ongoing mismanagement of the College.
The College should, without delay:
- An immediate reduction in executive pay, expenses and perks and a cap on executive salary
- Cease all engagement of consultants and instead utilise the substantial staff resources of the College;
- End all agency outsourcing and employ all staff directly;
- Introduce a democratic management structure in which, competent governors, elected union officials and students are provided with appropriate information and resources in order to be actively involved in strategic decision making.
In addition, Bradford College UCU will ballot for action short of and including industrial action in the event of the College seeking to address financial weakness through making our members compulsorily redundant or a worsening of our terms and conditions of service.
Huge congratulations to all those who participated and supported this week’s historic joint UCU and Unison strike action for fair pay in FE! It was fantastic to see Unison members on the picket line at DHB.
The day was a great success. Highlights included: incredible photos of busy picket lines from colleges all over the country.
In her speech, Sally Hunt, General Secretary congratulated strikers and paved the way for further action: “If we have to do this again, then we do. Every step of the way challenge AoC’s policy. We should be very proud’
Gorden Marsden, Shadow Skills and FE Minister showed once again Labour support for our strike, for our vision of education and our concerns about the upcoming area reviews –
Great coverage in the national and local press, even the Daily Mail!
You may also be interested in:
UCU ‘Cradle to Grave’ conference – video report now available
UCU held its annual ‘Cradle to Grave’ conference in defence of public education at the weekend and we were delighted to welcome Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as well Natalie Bennett from the Green Party, UCU’s Sally Hunt and Channel Four News economics editor Paul Mason. Jeremy Corbyn spoke about the value and necessity of education and gave a stirring defence of trade unions.
Real show of strength between colleagues today. #powerinaunion! #fairpayinFE #UCU #unison and College IWW members taking a stand and saying enough is enough! Workload up + pay freeze = very unhappy staff
For more coverage nationwide see here. BC made it onto the cut! https://www.ucu.org.uk/fepayengland
FE News reporter caught up with one of our Engineering Lecturers who attended the recent UCU Cradle to the Grave Conference.
Read about it here:
You can see highlights from the conference here: