Downs College staff poised to strike over redundancies

SUSSEX Downs College staff could be on the verge of strike action after a wave of redundancies was announced.

In March, the college revealed government cuts in further education was forcing it to review its structure, curriculum and services.

This week, the National Union of Teachers said that 96 per cent of teachers polled had voted in favour of a strike.

However, college principal and chief executive Melanie Hunt said the ballot had ‘gained positive responses from only 24 staff’.

She added, “We are very disappointed by the continuing reductions in funding for colleges. Protecting our learners and staff is our first priority; but in the current economic climate, this is a real challenge.

“I take seriously our commitment to try and safeguard courses and jobs for our many staff who work very hard, and who give our learners and customers valuable qualifications and employment.

Phil Clarke, secretary for Lewes, Eastbourne and Wealden NUT, said, “Our members are prepared to take action not only in defence of jobs but also to protect the educational standards at the college.

“Standards simply cannot be maintained with this level of cuts while making teachers and lecturers teach more hours.”

He said strikes could begin next month. Members of the NUT’s sister union the UCU are also being balloted.