UCU slams “unnecessary and unfair” plans to axe lecturers at Blackburn College

Image by Alexander P Kapp / Blackburn College / CC BY-SA 2.0

The UCU has slammed as “unnecessary and unfair” plans for Blackburn College to axe 11 posts, whilst giving senior managers a salary boost to help them avoid paying tax on million-pound pension pots.

Under the proposals, 29 staff are at risk of losing their jobs, with 11 expected to be made redundant by September. The UCU said the latest losses were another blow to the college where staff numbers have plummeted in recent years.

According to the college’s data, total staff numbers fell by 140 between 2016 and 2019 from 828 to 688, which included a 25% fall in the number of teachers.* These latest plans are the fifth proposals for redundancies since May 2016.

UCU said the proposal to allow staff with pension savings of £1million to be given a salary boost to avoid tax was incredible. The change would see the college pay staff extra in salary instead of contributing to their pension. This would save those staff who had reached the £1million savings a considerable tax bill.

The most recent accounts from the college showed that six people were paid an annual salary of over £80,000 in 2019, all of who were in the senior management team. The highest earner was the principal who was paid between £175,000 and £180,000. The college was unable to tell the union how many staff it expected to benefit from the pension tax deal.

UCU regional official Martyn Moss said: “We are in unprecedented and difficult times as we all try to deal with the current crisis. We find it incredible that the college is threatening staff with job losses while making plans to further feather the nests of senior managers.

“Blackburn College needs to recognise the commitments made by staff in dealing with the crisis. Sacking staff at a time when there simply is not work available elsewhere is unnecessary and unfair. The college needs to reverse plans to hand out cash to senior managers and work with us to protect jobs for the future.”

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