Article published: Wednesday, June 9th 2010
Staff at The Manchester College (TMC) are having new contracts imposed under little or no consultation, with significant changes to working conditions. Meanwhile, much criticised principal Peter Tavernor has awarded himself a 10 per cent pay rise and now earns more than the Prime Minister.
Staff were sent letters proposing changes to their contracts and requesting attendance of a consultation meeting. Days later however they were handed finalised contracts and given one week to sign and return them under threat of losing their jobs.
Since the contracts were handed out, staff have negotiated an extra working week to sign and individuals are meeting with management and human resources representatives to discuss individual issues with the contracts. Many remain suspicious though that their concerns are being dismissed and that they are being given an unreasonable ultimatum to sign or leave, and some are complaining about “bullying and intimidation by managers”.
“Clearly this is unnacceptable practice, employees need time to fully consider the impact of changes to working conditions,” said one member of staff, who wished not to be named for fear of reprisals.
Of the conditions of the new contracts themselves they suggested: “These changes will have a significant effect on families who face extra travel and childcare costs. The lowest paid employees are faced with bearing the costs of these efficiencies.”
Under the new contract proposals, staff face increased teaching hours and commitments and a reduction in holidays. The University and College Union (UCU) has said the proposals would “lead to a two-tier workforce” and recently called TMC an “embarrassment to the city”.
Experienced tutors at the college are already leaving as a result of the management’s misconduct and the college is currently facing around 25 employment tribunals.
According to MULE’s source in the College: “If these tutors are forced out, this will certainly impact upon the quality of teaching at the College. We must continue to provide a sustained quality of service in our communities.”
“This has truly dented our passion for teaching. We are wholly committed and passionate about providing an excellent standard of education and improving social mobility for some of the most under privileged students.”
Meanwhile, in a year which has seen allegations of harassment of staff, accusations of “institutional fraud” in the House of Commons, massive redundancies, and 300 students thrown off ESOL courses due to management incompetence, Tavernor has increased his pay to £193,970 from under £180,000 in 2008.
Salary rises have also been offered to nine other management staff despite instituting a pay freeze to over 3,000 prison education staff at the college and 300 job losses. The knock-on effect will see fewer rehabilitation opportunities for offenders and a serious impact on the quality of community teaching in Manchester.
General Secretary for UCU Sally Hunt has condemned the cuts to teaching staff, calling it a “hammer blow to learning throughout the country”. The union are currently balloting for strike action over the new contracts, which are due to come into force on 1 August.
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