LECTURERS at Kirklees College have voted for a strike.
They have backed union calls for action in a dispute over proposed cuts at the college – set to move to a new campus in Huddersfield in the Autumn.
And last night officials from the University and College Union (UCU) were to meet to decide if and when a one-day strike would take place.
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They are continuing to hold talks with college bosses in the hope of averting action.
But they admitted that feelings were running high among many of the 250 union members at the college who have been told they could face pay cuts of up to £12,000.
The college is looking at the cuts as part of a budget plan to overcome the loss of millions of pounds of Government funding. Some 50 jobs face the axe.
The union claim another factor is the costs of the move to the new Waterfront campus between Manchester Road and Chapel Hill, with interest payments for a loan for the project set to reach £2m a year.
The UCU yesterday revealed that a ballot for action short of a strike had been backed by 91.8% of the members, with a proposal for strike action getting 79% backing.
More than half the lecturers voted in the ballot.
UCU regional officer Julie Kelley said: “We are continuing to talk with college officials and there has been a change in demeanour over the last three weeks since we mentioned industrial action.
“But there is a real concern among our members that they are going to bear the brunt of the cuts.
“Some have a genuine concern they could lose their jobs and many face having a big cut in salary, some up to £12,000.
“We are also worried that the department facing the toughest cutbacks is one which deals with basis numeracy and literacy skills to students with real needs, such as those with visual impairments or hearing difficulties.
“They need support yet that is an area where cutbacks could come.
“We will be meeting as soon as possible to discuss dates for action but will continue to meet college officials.”
No-one was available at Kirklees College last night but a spokesman has said that many staff had welcomed the opportunity to reduce their hours by a small amount and improve their work-life balance.
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College principal Peter McCann said: “We’ve been working closely with the UCU throughout this restructure process and are disappointed that they have decided to ballot members on strike action.
“We have made significant progress to date with a voluntary redundancy programme and other forms of savings and we will do everything possible to avoid the need for compulsory redundancy but we cannot rule it out as we have to operate within our financial means.”