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Teaching Staff Holiday Consultation Negotiations with UCU Fail

Friday 27 May 2022
Richmond upon Thames College needs to reduce the annual leave entitlement of teaching staff in order to improve the quality of the student experience by ensuring 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. This is not a cost cutting exercise but one which in fact will compensate staff fully for the reduction in annual leave and thereby increase their salary during a time of cost-of-living rises.

The College has continually demonstrated a consistent and genuine desire to negotiate and reach agreement on the new annual leave and pay arrangements. Having invited UCU representatives into the College this afternoon for a formal meeting in an attempt to reach an agreement, we are again disappointed that negotiations broke down when UCU representatives refused to compromise in any way. It is therefore extremely frustrating that UCU have voted to take further strike action at this time. During the meeting it became apparent that agreement could not be reached on the proposal to reduce the current 64 days per year of annual leave to a total of 56 days of leave fully compensated, which is in line with other FE Colleges, by the beginning of the new academic year.

Our MP, Munira Wilson, has always been a great support to the college and understands the rationale for the proposals which will support the student experience and fundamentally recognise the work that teaching staff regularly carry out during holiday times, which is currently unpaid. We acknowledge Munira’s stance on so-called ‘fire and re-hire' and we have been clear from the outset, and have reiterated again, that the option to terminate old contracts and re-engage teaching staff on new terms and conditions would be a final, worst-case scenario which we had hoped to avoid through full, professional and genuine negotiation with UCU representatives. Sadly, UCU have not approached the negotiations in this spirit and in our view have let down their members.

No dismissal letters have been sent while we continue consulting with teaching staff and a significant number have already agreed to the new terms and conditions. Consultation will continue with all members of teaching staff in the hope of meeting a resolution.

At no point during the 45-day consultation period and the 18-day extension given by the College have UCU entered any reasonable negotiations with the College and this position still stands. We reject their latest inflammatory and inaccurate press statement.

The management and staff at Richmond upon Thames College, who have continued to support students throughout this critical exam period while this industrial action has taken place, will not be intimidated by tactics that seek to coerce by means of threat of further disruption to our students’ learning and assessment experience. There is still time for UCU to return to the table to find an appropriate way forward and the College urges UCU representatives to reconsider their own abrupt conclusion to the most recent negotiation meeting and make every professional effort to support the College in finding a solution that allows us to achieve the best outcome for our students and staff.

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