MEMBERS of the University and College union (UCU) at Bradford College have given their backing to strike action in a dispute over plans to cut jobs and change contracts.

Eighty-eight per cent of members who voted backed strike action on a turnout of 61 per cent.

UCU said the strong mandate for strike action should focus the college on working with the union to resolve the dispute and avoid serious disruption.

The union added that if the college refused to engage then it would announce strike dates.

Bradford College has announced plans to cut 75 jobs as part of an effort to tackle a funding deficit after the college was issued with a financial notice to improve in March.

UCU regional official, Julie Kelley, said: ‘Bradford College can be in no doubt about how angry their staff are at plans to cut jobs and mess around with their contracts.

Strike action is always a last resort, but staff clearly feel they have been left with no alternative.

“We hope the colleges will respond positively to these strong mandates for action and work with us to resolve matters without the need for disruption.’

Ballots over possible strike action opened on April 13 and finished yesterday.

A similar ballot has been held at Kirklees College, where 52 jobs are at risk.

The union said the plans would hit students the hardest and urged the colleges to work with UCU to develop alternatives to cutting jobs.

Ms Kelley, added: “Job cuts would mean fewer learning opportunities for the people of Bradford, and a huge loss of valuable expertise.

“Members feel they had been left with no option but to ballot for strike action in order to defend jobs and working conditions.

“We want both colleges to halt their damaging plans and work with us to develop alternative approaches.”

A Bradford College spokesman said: “Our Strategic Recovery Plan is focused on improving the quality of provision for students whilst achieving financial sustainability.

“In some subject areas we have fewer students and therefore have to realign our resources. We are also introducing new roles such as Curriculum and Quality Managers so that we focus on delivering outstanding teaching and learning.

“We are seeking to avoid compulsory redundancies and welcome any alternative proposals from staff and the UCU. “We are, therefore, disappointed that the UCU (has voted for) strike action, which we do not feel is in the best interests of students or staff.”