College jobs set for axe

WORKERS who look after the upkeep and protection of a college are facing redundancy.

East Durham College, which has campuses in Peterlee and Durham City, is consulting staff over the loss of employees responsible for the grounds, buildings and security.

The GMB says it believes 12 jobs out of around 30 in the section will be lost and has said the cuts would lead to a 50 per cent reduction in the department’s budget, with managers already making a saving of £315,000 in the last year.

It says the move does not compare with job cuts being considered elsewhere in the public sector, such as the police.

The college has said the risk to jobs comes as a result of a review of its staffing structure and initially began as a plan to lose 73 workers through compulsory redundancies.

But, through voluntary redundancies and changes and reductions in contracts, it expects the loss of about 10 posts across the college workforce.

Stephen Thompkins, regional organiser, said: “We are hopeful at the moment that volunteers may take up the chance to go. The people that are left will be expected to carry out more and more work with less people.

“We are also concerned some of these cuts are in key areas.

“It’s come as a shock. Quite a lot of these people have worked there for a long time.

“We are disappointed, as we are mindful that last year they made a number of cuts to their budget and by being flexible and through natural wastage, a sum of more than £300,000 was saved. This seems to have come out of the blue.”

He added the maintenance and security of the buildings should also be a priority area for the college, which opened its new £35m campus in Peterlee in 2009.

The college has said there are still a number of consultations running, with the last to end on February 24 and because of this, it says it cannot state how may enforced redundancies it will make. However, indications are it could be about 10 jobs.

College principal Stuart Wesselby said: “This is a very difficult time for everyone, but I have been overwhelmed by the professionalism of our staff and how imaginative they have been in helping to try and minimise the number of possible enforced redundancies.

“The college reviews its structures and staffing levels on a regular basis in order to ensure it is run in line with funding and meets the changing requirements of learners, employers and communities.

“I would like to assure all our students that any changes will not have an adverse affect on the quality of frontline teaching.”

He added staff who are at risk of redundancy are being offered support.