Proposed college merger cuts are ‘thin end of the wedge’ – UNISON Scotland

Date: Fri 22 March 2013

Scotland’s further education support staff union UNISON and college lecturers’ union EIS today jointly condemned a move to cut 86 jobs in a new merged Glasgow college.

The unions reacted with anger as news broke of the job losses planned before, during and after the proposed merger of Stow, North Glasgow and John Wheatley colleges.

UNISON’s Brian McQuillan, steward at John Wheatley College, described the merger cuts as “the thin end of a very big wedge.”

He said: “These merger cuts are a devastating blow for the people of Glasgow and for further education. The college management refused our offer to work with them to find alternatives to job losses and denied us the opportunity to approach our Board to discuss.
Chris Greenshields, chair of UNISON’s Further Education Committee, said: “The cuts are in addition to more than 120 jobs being lost in the new Clyde College where we understand every person that asked for a package was given one. What kind of strategy for course and service provision is being followed?

“Our college students desperately need the essential services our members provide as they embark on those first steps into education. Without these services our students could fail to progress.”

North Glasgow College UNISON steward Chris Rogers added: “This decision should have been delayed until after the three colleges merge in November, so as to ensure a smooth transition and guaranteed services for our students.”

EIS Convener at Stow College  Charles Montgomery said: “The failure of the college managements to provide any educational rationale for these cuts in jobs and provision of services demonstrates quite clearly that they have little interest in the impact this will have on the communities that we serve. We believe there is another way.

“The irony is that millions of pounds will be spent on voluntary severance packages when the money should be used to provide educational services to our most deprived communities. Over 90% of Glasgow school leavers don’t go directly to university and many come through our colleges where these savage cuts are being implemented.

“The colleges also provide a vital second chance for adult returners in areas facing long term unemployment.”
The three colleges which serve some of Scotland’s neediest communities have already over the last few years cut  jobs, courses and services. The 86 job losses planned in the current merger cuts round will cover support roles as well as lecturers.

The job losses follow a cut of 120 posts which  has already been approved at the new Clyde College.


Notes for editors:
1. UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working mainly in the public sector in Scotland and represents a range of staff delivering important services in further and higher education.

2. Already more than 1,300 jobs have been lost from Scotland’s vital FE colleges in the 18 months or so before Education Secretary Mike Russell announced that he wanted a further £50 million of savings as a result of mergers.

3. In written and oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee on the Post-16 Education Bill on 5 February, UNISON argued that Russell’s cuts “will have a catastrophic effect on the key services our members provide to our students. We cannot continue to cut while the sector deals with the biggest changes in over 20 years.”.