Pay freeze 'will hit staff morale'

MORALE at a cash-strapped college could be hit after it was revealed staff would not be receiving a pay increase this year. Union representatives at Braintree College are in discussions after the pay freeze was detailed in an e-mail obtained by the East Anglian Daily Times.

MORALE at a cash-strapped college could be hit after it was revealed staff would not be receiving a pay increase this year.

Union representatives at Braintree College are in discussions after the pay freeze was detailed in an e-mail obtained by the East Anglian Daily Times.

The college's new principal Jacquie Watts said she realised the decision could upset and possibly anger many people.

The document revealed the college had braced itself for a deficit budget of £400,000, which did not make an allowance for the pay award to staff.

However, it went on to reveal there were currently forecasts of a deficit of more than £800,000, which placed the college in “an unfortunate financial position”.

Meanwhile, it is understood there has been a spending freeze on items unless judged to be absolutely essential.

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NATFHE, the university and college lecturers' union, said lecturers and students could be affected.

Staff union representatives met yesterdayto discuss the issue and further action is expected to take place after the Easter break.

Ms Watts, who took over as principal in February, told staff in the e-mail: “Given the current financial position of the college, it was with much regret that governing body decided that a pay award could not be paid to staff in 03/04.

“I realise that this is extremely bad news, made worse by the length of time it has taken to reach this decision, but never the less, given the current financial situation of the college, I believe it is the right one for the time being.”

Last night, Miss Watts acknowledged it had not been a good year financially, “for a variety of reasons” but said they were now looking to the future.

She said: “As much as we would have liked to give the pay award, it would not have helped the current situation.”

NATFHE, the university and college lecturers' union, said morale could be hit.

Elizabeth Martins, its regional official, said: “It is with regret that the college has taken this position because of the effect it has on lecturers and, indirectly, on the students.

“Lecturers are now expected to teach 14 to 16 year olds, but are not yet achieving parity with the pay of school teachers. They should be properly remunerated at the level of the AOC's national recommendations.”

She added the union welcomed the arrival of the new principal and working with her to resolve the current shortfall.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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