Northern Ireland

FE industrial relations criticised in review by Sir Robert Salisbury

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Media captionA review of industrial relations in NI's six further education colleges has said they are not fit for purpose

A review of industrial relations in NI's six further education colleges has said they are not fit for purpose.

The current system is described as largely ineffective and dysfunctional and a complete overhaul has been recommended.

Some of the six colleges have been embroiled in bitter industrial disputes, particularly with lecturers.

A review by Sir Robert Salisbury has concluded the current system cannot continue.

Sir Robert has made 17 recommendations and he said they should be tackled urgently.

They include setting up a single negotiating body to cover all staff and involving a wider range of staff.

He said the understanding of how negotiations work is at best haphazard and at worst non-existent, so proposals for change lead to opposition and suspicion.

He said compared to that for lecturers, the negotiating body for "non-teaching staff" seemed to be working well, but he said that title is seen as derogatory and should be changed to "educational support staff".

The chief executive of Colleges Northern Ireland (CNI), which represents all the colleges, said all the recommendations had been accepted by the management of the colleges.

Gerry Campbell said: "It is clear that present structures require updating and revisions to ensure they are reflective of the modern business and learning environment."

A copy of the report can be viewed on the CNI website.

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