Plan to ‘Fire and Rehire’ 100 teachers at Richmond College

FE lecturers striking over pay – now UCU members are fighting against sackings at Richmond College

STAFF are set to strike over a plan to ‘Fire & Rehire’ over 100 teachers at Richmond upon Thames College

Staff at Richmond upon Thames College are set to down tools for five consecutive days over plans by management to sack every teacher at the college and force them to reapply for their jobs on worse terms and conditions if they want to stay.

The action is set to take place from Monday 23 to Friday 27 May.

It comes after an overwhelming 97% of University and College Union (UCU) members who voted in the industrial ballots said yes to strike action. The turnout was 88%, smashing the Tory anti-trade union legal threshold of 50%.

The five days of strike action will be immediately followed by staff working strictly to contract, after 100% of those who voted said yes to action short of strike.

The action short of strike could also be escalated to include refusing to cover for colleagues, refusing to use personal IT facilities including Wi-Fi and broadband, refusing to reschedule lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action, and a boycott of assessments.

The college wants to sack all 127 members of its teaching staff and make them reapply for their jobs on new contracts that would see them lose 10 days holiday.

Management began the deeply controversial process, widely known as ‘fire and rehire’, without any prior engagement or consultation with staff. The college claims that ‘trust’, ‘integrity’ and ‘excellence’ are the values that ‘underpin everything’ it does.

After a meeting with UCU on Tuesday, 10 May, the employer confirmed that it would not enter further negotiations and would begin conducting 1-2-1 meetings with staff ahead of delivering dismissal notices.

Holiday entitlement is one of the few perks in a college that pays qualified teachers as little as £26,000. Teachers with over 13 years’ experience only earn around £37,000.

This is lower than at most colleges in the surrounding area and teachers at local schools can earn up to £51,000.

Staff at the college have told UCU that the institution is in a state of chaos and that they feel broken by how they have been treated with many now looking to quit.

To avoid industrial action, the union has told management that they must immediately withdraw the threat of compulsory dismissals and detrimental changes to contractual terms and conditions.

UCU general secretary Jo Grady, said: ‘The management team at Richmond upon Thames are effectively putting a gun to the head of their own staff.

‘It is deplorable behaviour and it will be met with the full force of our union.

‘The huge vote for strike action shows staff are going absolutely nowhere and it is in the interests of all that the so-called leaders of the college think again and immediately remove the threat on people’s jobs.’