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Statement - Holiday Consultation May 2022

Thursday 12 May 2022

Richmond upon Thames College (RuTC) is working hard to resolve the dispute which has arisen over the College’s need to change the annual leave arrangements for College teaching staff. The dispute with University and Colleges Union (UCU) has arisen over the proposal to reduce the current 64 days a year (including Bank Holidays and efficiency days) of annual leave to a level in line with other FE colleges. The consultation and negotiation period (further extended by the College) has come to a close and the proposal is a net loss of 8 days of annual leave with full financial compensation, which equates to teaching staff having 56 days of leave. 

The College has demonstrated a genuine desire to negotiate on the overall package of benefits including pay and levels of annual leave and has confirmed the offer of 100% financial compensation (consolidated) for the net reduction in annual leave. It is important that we get the right balance between working time and annual leave. Without the changes that we are proposing, the College will be unable to deliver the level of service that our students deserve.

The College needs to have a new calendar in place for the new academic year to ensure that there is more time for teachers to have INSET days outside the teaching timetable to develop their practice, meet as teams and focus on the individual needs of the students and plan and organise their work.

The College informed the union on 22nd February 2022 that there would be proposals to change the terms and conditions of the teaching staff contract to see if agreement could be reached and individuals could voluntarily move to the revised contract. It was agreed that we would move to formal consultation on 8th March 2022. The 45-day formal consultation period was due to end on 22nd April 2022 and the College extended the timeline until 10th May 2022 in the hope of reaching collective agreement. Consultation came to an end on that day when it was clear negotiations could go no further.

The College notes the concerns raised by UCU around the tabling of the final option to dismiss and re-engage but is resolute that this is a ‘worst case scenario’ only to be pursued in the event that it is unable to reach an agreed compromise position with the unions. The College remained committed to reaching a collective agreement without having to implement the process set out in the recent Section 188 notice and it remained the College’s strong and stated preference to reach a negotiated position that would avoid the necessity of implementing this process.

We are disappointed that UCU balloted staff and have decided on industrial action, although this was not a unanimous vote for strike action by members of the union. We believe that this dispute could have been resolved without this disruption to our students’ learning and support experience during formal exam time.

There have been no dismissal letters sent to date, as the College is in discussions with individual members of teaching staff, of whom a significant number are accepting the new contract terms on a voluntary basis.

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