Staff and students have staged a demonstration at a Leeds college over the closure of three nurseries as well as other potential job losses.
Members of the unions UNISON, the GMB and UCU who work at or attend Leeds City College waved banners and chanted messages outside the Park Lane campus in protest against the cost-cutting measures, which also include the withdrawal of some courses.
The unions said the cuts would lead to the loss of the equivalent of 100 full-time jobs, as well as 36 jobs at the nurseries.
Lecturer Chris Ellis said: “This is the second time this academic year that there have been cuts and there seems to be a mentality of cut first, think later, really.”
The college announced in March that it wanted to close the nurseries at three of its community learning centres: the Brudenell Centre in Hyde Park, St Bartholomew’s in Armley and the Enfield Centre in Sheepscar.
A worker at one of the nurseries, which are due to close tomorrow, didn’t want to be named in case there was a last-minute reprieve.
She said: “The children and the students are going to suffer. There’ll be some funding for external provision, but a number of students with English as a second language won’t be able to understand how to apply for that.”
Regional Officer of the University and College Union (UCU), John Giddins, said: “This is the fourth year that staff at the college have been faced with the anxiety and worry of restructuring, while the principal’s salary has risen from £140,000 to £180,000.
“We feel that the college is losing sight of providing further education for the people of Leeds and embarking on a route where it has to make a profit.”
The college said a reduction in central government funding would result in approximately £6m less for the college. It said it had made savings of more than £4m without affecting employees, but the remainder could lead to a reduction in the region of between 50-60 full-time equivalent posts.
Principal Peter Roberts said: “We sincerely hope that all these can be achieved without any compulsory redundancies and continue to discuss proposals with the unions during this time.”
The college said the nurseries had been running at a loss for several years and that no alternative viable solutions were found. It said it was “unfair and inaccurate” to compare senior staff salaries year on year as the numbers of staff within salary bands requiring disclosure had varied over the years.
Spanish course withdrawn
student linda Halliday, 50, from East Leeds, is a victim of the cuts. She has just completed a Beginners Spanish course at Deacon House Community and Adult Education Centre in Seacroft, but has been told it will not continue next term.
Linda is a carer for her disabled mother and said the course was the only way she got to spend time out of the house.
She said: “I don’t have any interaction with anyone else face to face and I need that.
“I was at the end of my tether before I joined this course and I’ve only just got my confidence back.”