The union activists claim the redundancies have not been carried out in accordance with legal guidelines, and furthermore that this is no first for the college, asserting that staff have been sacked before without due process. Earlier this year several administrative workers had to be reinstated after it was found that the proper procedures had not been followed.
On 1 July teachers walked out in a one-day strike as they attempted to fight the redundancies. 74% of the University and College Union (UCU) branch voting in favour of the action and a large number joined the picket on the day. Despite this the management has refused to move on the issue.
A spokesperson for the Unison union said the college had been far from forthcoming in negotiating over the job losses. When supporters of those made redundant tried to go to a meeting of the board of governors, they found specially hired security guards barring their entry and the governors refusing to let them voice their opposition.
One Unison member, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals, says that there is a history of union intimidation at the institution. She claims all the staff are angry but many are too frightened to act. “The sackings and intimidation have worked, people are afraid to act now and there are very few members of the union,” she added.
UCU Branch Secretary David Swanson is one of the workers facing redundancy, an action UCU describe as ‘union busting’. They believe that Swanson has been singled out for redundancy in an attempt to stifle union activity. It was found by a tribunal that before the merger with City College, back in 2004, MANCAT had closed down its whole trade union training department in an attempt to disrupt union activity.
College bosses say that further rounds of job losses may follow.