Summer of strikes ahead

STRIKE THREAT The University and College Union  is balloting members at Kirklees College .
STRIKE THREAT The University and College Union is balloting members at Kirklees College .

Kirklees College could be hit by strike action as a row over jobs losses and changes to pay and terms escalates.

The University and College Union (UCU) began a ballot of its members at Kirklees College on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, 2,500 Unison members at the Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust have voted in favour of strike action and 500 Unite members at Yorkshire Ambulance service have announced a second walkout.

In April college bosses revealed plans to axe the equivalent of 56 full-time jobs and cut the pay of other staff in response to a £5m funding cut.

The job losses will affect all college centres, including Dewsbury and Batley.

UCU members fear the cuts will affect the quality of education and say new buildings in Huddersfield have exacerbated the financial problems.

Regional official Julie Kelley said: “Staff have been patient with the college in recent years and suffered pay freezes and job losses, but enough is enough. Staff are understandably angry at the situation the college has got itself in and we do not believe compulsory redundancies are the way to resolve the problem.”

She said strike action was always a last resort, but job cuts would no nothing for the college’s reputation.

College principal Peter McCann said: “We’ve been working closely with the UCU throughout this restructure process and are disappointed that they have decided to ballot members on strike action.

“We have made significant progress to date with a voluntary redundancy programme and other forms of savings and we will do everything possible to avoid the need for compulsory redundancy but we cannot rule it out.”

The ballot will close on Monday June 10 with the result expected that afternoon.

Yesterday, Unison said members at Dewsbury, Pontefract and Pinderfields hospitals had voted in favour of walkouts in a bitter dispute over pay cuts of up to £2,800 for admin workers.

Arbitration service ACAS is due to host talks with both sides to seek a resolution.

Meanwhile, Unite members at Yorkshire Ambulance Service will stage a 12-hour stoppage from midnight on Friday June 7.

Union officials said more action would follow if bosses refused talks over the union’s de-recognition and plans to cut £46m over five years.