Tyne & Wear

Sunderland College staff to strike over £10k pay cut

Staff at a Wearside college have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over a planned £10,000 wage cut.

More than 150 lecturers - 70% of the teaching staff - at Sunderland College will see their pay scales downgraded.

A union official said the strike would take place during this academic year and the date was likely to be announced on Wednesday.

Staff are also expected to begin refusing to to carry out duties outside their contracted hours.

Turnout for the ballot was 59%, with 88% of those who voted backing strike action.

Iain Owens of the University College Union (UCU) attacked the plan to cut staff salaries and reclassify lecturers as associate teachers, with a corresponding decrease in salary.

A full-time lecturer's position carries a salary of about £35,000 while associate teacher posts carry fewer responsibilities and pay £24,700.

'Destroying morale'

Mr Owens called the proposed salary reductions punitive and accused the college of breaching nationally agreed pay scales, a move he said was "not in the long-term interest of the institution".

The plans would "succeed only in destroying morale and deterring the best and the brightest from wanting to come and work at a college where they will be paid far less than the national average", he said.

Sunderland College announced 36 job losses in March as part of an attempt to save £2.2m in light of government cutbacks.

College Principal Angela O'Donoghue said: "The college is looking at lots of different ways to save money and cutting lecturers' pay is just one of them.

"We'd like to remind people that the reason this has become an issue is that we have to cut £2.2m from our budget next year due to funding cuts."

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