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Tuesday 18th December 2012 | 11:03
UCU press release
The University and College Union (UCU) said today that government plans to strip away the rights of people facing redundancy were another damaging blow for post-16 education, which has already been hit with funding cuts and threats of job losses.
Under the new plans, announced by employment relations minister, Jo Swinson, trade unions would no longer have the legal right to be consulted about widespread redundancies of staff who happen to be on fixed-term contracts - in further and higher education that can be staff with many years service.
Only the hotel and catering sector has more people on fixed-term contracts than further and higher education - something UCU described as the 'unacceptable underbelly of post-16 education'. The union called on employers to maintain collective consultations, whether or not they remain a legal requirement, as it believes there are positives for both staff and institutions.
UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: "Casualisation in our universities and colleges remains the unacceptable underbelly of post-16 education and these changes send a very worrying message to staff. Employers should maintain collective consultations whether or not they remain a legal requirement, as it is good for staff and institutions to engage in positive dialogue.
"Jobs for early careers staff in further and higher education are already notoriously insecure; making the situation even worse could result in many considering different career paths.
"The government's excuse that slashing the 90-day consultation period will make it easier for people to find another job is quite ridiculous considering the shocking state of the jobs market. This is an attack on workers' rights and should not be dressed up as anything else."