Parties unite in bid to combat job losses at North West Regional College
Nationalist politicians have formed a united front to call for no compulsory redundancies at the North West Regional College.
The college said last September that teaching redundancies at its Londonderry campus were likely, but it did not put a figure on how many would be affected.
Last month management sent letters to staff from several departments telling them that their position could be in jeopardy.
In a rare bi-partisan move, SDLP and Sinn Fein MLAs have issued a joint statement saying they will be seeking talks with the Further Education Minister Danny Kennedy and the college's Board of Governors to discuss the cuts.
In the statement Sinn Fein’s Raymond McCartney and the SDLP’s Pat Ramsay and Pol Callaghan said: “We would obviously be very concerned at any redundancies, both in terms of the impact on the staff themselves and the service to students.
“We are aware that a large number of teaching staff at the college have recently received letters warning them of the prospect of redundancies at the campus by next summer. We would obviously be very concerned at any redundancies, both in terms of the impact on the staff themselves and the service to students.
“All possible steps should be taken to avoid compulsory redundancies and if savings need to be made then the college management should ensure that every possible alternative is exhausted before any member of staff is made redundant.
“The college is a vital resource for the entire north west, not only in terms of up-skilling our young people but also with the community outreach work which it is involved in.
“It is in the wider north west interest that services at the college are protected and developed so that we can build our local economy.”
Mr McCartney acknowledged that it was unusual for his party to issue a joint statement with the SDLP, but he said it was an indication of how strongly the political leaders in Derry felt.
“We were invited to meet with the lecturers’ representatives to discuss the possible compulsory redundancies and it was agreed if the Foyle MLAs spoke as one it would strengthen the case and we had no difficulty doing that.”
DUP Foyle MLA William Hay was also invited to attend the meeting but sent his apologies because of travel difficulties.
But he said he was “deeply concerned” about the possibility of compulsory redundancies.
He added: “I am deeply concerned about the way the college seems to be handling this and I will need to be convinced that all other possible avenues have been explored and looked at before we go down the road of compulsory redundancies, and I will certainly be interested in meeting with the Further Education minister and the Board of Governors.”