Socialist Worker

Fury as Ayrshire College boss suspends union activist

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2431

A local dispute over a new timetabling policy at one college in Scotland has escalated after a boss sacked a leading union activist.

Lecturers at the Kilwinning campus of the newly merged Ayrshire College struck on Tuesday of last week.

In the following days bosses suspended Ian Cochrane, the college branch secretary of the EIS-Fela education union.

Ian is also a member of a newly formed national joint negotiating committee for Scotland’s colleges (NJNC-CS), which represents all unions, and a local SNP councillor.

His suspension was for a matter unrelated to the dispute but it is seen as a direct attack on the union.

One college worker told Socialist Worker, “During the strike HR managers were in classes asking students about the way staff do their job, it was just a fishing expedition to try and undermine the strike.

“Incessant mismanagement of academic matters lies at the heart of this. We’re being asked to teach different subjects to different groups of students in the same classroom. Hairdressers have been asked to take joinery classes.”

Workers say staff are being threatened with disciplinary action and face pressure to comply. Over 7,000 days of absence last year show stress levels are through the roof.

In response to Ian’s suspension EIS members voted overwhelmingly for a motion of no confidence in the college principal Heather Dunk. They have also called for a college-wide strike ballot.

Rarely does the union nationally sanction an immediate full strike ballot but due to what it calls an “inflammatory and unwarranted suspension” this time it has.

The NJNC-CS staff side chair Donny Gluckstein spoke to Socialist Worker in a personal capacity. He said, “Ian is part of our team. If they get away with his victimisation that is a threat to everybody working in further education in Scotland.

“Heather Dunk may think she can limit this to a fight in Ayrshire but it’s bigger than that. We will not stand by and allow this to happen.”

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Article information

Tue 25 Nov 2014, 16:14 GMT
Issue No. 2431
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