Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Unions and accounting for redundancies – lifting the fog?

The Coalition’s budget deficit programme is causing redundancies to ripple through the public sector as well as quite a bit of the third sector exemplifying the Big Society. The OBR expects 330,000 public sector jobs to go by 2015.

In times such as these it is vital that unions provide workplace representatives as well as rank-and-file union members with the tools to understand what is going on. In the college sector UNISON have published a Guide for UNISON reps dealing with cuts.

The Guide helpfully sets out how the Coalition’s policies are affecting funding for colleges. It is less clear when it comes to explaining college accounts and measures of financial health used by the Skills Funding Agency. In fact it seems to not appreciate how making operating losses inevitably worsens a college’s financial health.

UNISON is right in understanding that further education funders have in the past paid funding allocations in advance to struggling colleges. But can the Skills Funding Agency do that when the whole sector is ravaged by funding cuts? Perhaps not.

On the website of the Universities and Colleges Union website there is useful Insiders Guide to HE sector finances including university accounts (pdf available). It was commissioned by Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff to assist both employers and employees in negotiations. The college sector could do with something similar in these troubled times.

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