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Angry lecturers could ballot for industrial action

By Brendan McDaid

More than 300 college lecturers will tomorrow decide whether to ballot for industrial action following disciplinary procedures against colleagues who protested against job cuts.

Five lecturers from the North West Regional College were yesterday called to attend disciplinary hearings in Londonderry for taking part in the demonstration.

The teaching staff took the action last Thursday in support of two senior lecturers and union officers whose jobs are being removed.

The group unfurled banners with slogans including 'No redundancies' as Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry officially opened a new £18m extension of NWRC's main Strand Road campus.

The University and College Union's branch secretary Denis Pegg and chairman David Limb, who have been told they are to lose their current senior lecturer roles, also faced appeal hearings in front of the governing body yesterday.

Mr Limb is also being pursued by the college for "alleged breaches of the Data Protection Act".

The union said this relates to him obtaining information to challenge the legitimacy of proposed redundancies at the college.

A total of 350 lecturers at the college are UCU members and will hold their annual meeting tomorrow. UCU regional organiser Jim McKeown said the lecturers will decide at the meeting whether to ballot for industrial action.

"There has been a complete breakdown in morale among staff in the college. Staff are fearful of speaking out on the issues," said Mr McKeown.

"There needs to be intervention now from the Department of Employment and Learning to look at how this college is being managed. We have written to the minister about this issue and he would have received that letter today."

The UCU said the strained relations come hard on the heels of rows over redundancies at the college and alleged that management have threatened to sue the union when over 30 members sought to exercise their rights of appeal over what they saw were unreasonable workloads.

At that time, the UCU overwhelmingly passed a motion of no confidence in the college leadership. "Normal industrial relations at the college are non-existent," Mr McKeown said.

The college yesterday declined to comment on the claims.

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