Lecturers fury over controversial contracts

LECTURERS at a college embroiled in controversial cost-cutting measures are being forced to sign a new contract extending their workload or face the sack, writes Lorraine King. Bosses at the College of North West London (CNWL), which has campuses in Kilbu

LECTURERS at a college embroiled in controversial cost-cutting measures are being forced to sign a new contract extending their workload or face the sack, writes Lorraine King.

Bosses at the College of North West London (CNWL), which has campuses in Kilburn, Wembley and Willesden, have informed staff they must sign their new work agreements by June 16 or face dismissal.

According to Indro Sen, the college's branch secretary for the University and College Union, the revised contract includes a host of changes such as making dedicated staff work 30 extra hours a year and two Saturdays per year.

He also claims five hours a week where lecturers were allowed to work 'off-site' has been withdrawn.


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He said: "Staff use those five hours to prepare for lessons or mark work but under the new contract they will have to cover absent colleagues in that time.

"It will have a detrimental effect on their quality of teaching."

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The college has made a series of unpopular decisions including the closure of its Kilburn campus, axing a host of popular courses, including all their BTEC sports programmes, and making scores of staff redundant.

The college claims since its funding was slashed by the now defunct Learning Skills Council three years ago, it has been left with a �3.2 million deficit which has forced a tightening of finances.

The college's decision to change the contracts of its teaching staff is not the first time both parties have been at loggerheads.

Last year, lecturers staged a walkout alleging that their salaries were �3,000 less then their counterparts at other colleges.

They also claimed their annual wage increase at inflation rate was eclipsed by the six-figure salary of Vicki Fagg, CNWL's principal, which they claimed had soared by 43 per cent.

Mr Sen said: "it's cowardly of the management to put the contract threat now when they think staff are weakened because of the redundancies.

"We are shocked that the new contracts have been taken into consideration when the college drew up their new budgets.

"We are prepared to talk to the management to prevent any damaging action."

The finances of the college have been under scrutiny after it revealed it was to 'suspend' lessons at its �5.5m award-winning campus in Priory Park Road, Kilburn, just three years after it opened to help stem its money woes.

However, the Times discovered the college owns an unused seven-storey block in the heart of Wembley, which is worth around �4m that it is refusing to sell.

In addition, it was forking out �60,000 a year on security for the building and thousands of pounds in business rates.

Furious critics of the closure proposals plan to hold a protest march which will start at the doomed campus on June 19.

The event aims to not only highlight the detrimental effect the closure will have in the area but to make college chiefs stand up and take notice.

A CNWL spokeswoman said: "Managers regret having to take this step but hope that any dismissals of staff will be avoided as lecturing staff will recognise that the exceptional constraints on public expenditure will require some reasonable adjustments to current working arrangements in line with lecturers' contracts in other colleges.

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