K College staff strike over plans to cut jobs

Staff on strike protested at the campus in Tonbridge as governors met to consider a recovery plan

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Staff at Kent's largest further education college have held a half-day strike over plans to cut 145 jobs.

K College, which has six campuses and more than 25,000 students, is facing an underlying deficit of £11m.

About 150 staff protested at the campus in Tonbridge as governors inside met to discuss the cuts, which could include the sale of the Folkestone site.

Chair of governors Laura Ellis said staff were a huge asset but further redundancies could not be ruled out.

"Our undertaking is always that we will look very, very carefully at any other way we can make savings other than job losses because our staff are clearly a huge asset and will always be," she said.

"We can't make any guarantees, although we have made quite a number of those savings already so we are always looking at how we can review that and how we could spread those redundancies in the best way we possibly can."

'Back in black'

K College has blamed the deficit on falling student numbers, funding cuts from central government, the cost of running six sites, and a delay in money owed from the sale of land.

Mrs Ellis, who works for the BBC as English Regions head of new media, said a recovery plan was in place, with the college set to be "back in the black" in two years' time.

The college has 1,100 staff in total, and those taking strike action said they were not only fighting for their own future, but for the future of their students.

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) and the National Union of Teachers (NUT) walked out of the college sites at 13:00 BST.

The staff affected included lecturers, management and support workers.

The UCU said it feared hundreds of jobs could be cut, in addition to 57 lost earlier this year, and that campuses in Ashford and Dover could also be sold.

Spokesman Adam Lincoln described the proposals as "ill-conceived and unjustified".

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