Teachers at a South West London college will walk out for 14 days starting next week over plans to slash staff’s holiday allowance.

Members of the University and College Union at Richmond upon Thames College already walked out in May and June and held protests after they were offered reduced annual leave.

The college is set to cut teachers’ holiday from 64 days to 56 days, including bank holidays.

The UCU has called the planned reduction a “mark of shame for the entire college” and slammed proposals to “fire and rehire” staff by dismissing them and making them reapply for their jobs on new contracts with reduced holiday.

Richmond and Twickenham Times: UCU members rally outside Richmond upon Thames College on 23 May. Credit: UCUUCU members rally outside Richmond upon Thames College on 23 May. Credit: UCU

The union has claimed teachers can be paid as little as £26,000 at the college, while teachers with more than 13 years’ experience earn roughly £37,000.

The college has called the reduction necessary to “improve the quality of the student experience” by allowing more time for teachers to have training days outside the usual timetable, meet as teams and organise their work.

It has said the tabling of the option to dismiss staff and “re-engage” them on new contracts is a “recognised part of the procedure for changing terms and conditions, if an agreement cannot be reached” and that it has been “prepared to negotiate” from the outset.

It said it has shown “flexibility and willingness” during the consultation process.

Meetings are ongoing between college management and UCU, with strikes planned for 14 days over a three-week period from August 22 to September 9.

No strike is planned for August 29 as it is a bank holiday.

The action is set to affect the enrolment and induction of new students, along with the first week of teaching.

Staff are planning to protest outside the college every morning of the upcoming strike action.

In a previous statement, a spokesperson for Richmond upon Thames College said it would provide “full financial compensation” to cover the eight lost holiday days which will be “consolidated into a new salary scale for teaching staff”.

The statement said: “We value greatly the work and professionalism of our teachers, as well as their dedication and commitment to our students, and we want to be entirely fair to them.

"The offer of full financial compensation for the loss of eight days of annual leave, which has been proposed as a means of improving the student experience, recognises the loyalty of our teachers to both the college and the students and communities we serve.”

It added: “We are aware that the ongoing dispute with UCU might reasonably give rise to concerns for prospective students and their parents/carers, as well as those already with us and continuing into 2022/23.

"Please be reassured that the college remains committed to providing all of our students with the best possible learning experience and opportunities to achieve, and we have already put in place strong and effective contingency plans to ensure that any disruption from further industrial action is minimised and our students’ learning experience is fully protected.

“The management and staff at Richmond upon Thames College will not be intimidated by tactics that seek to coerce by means of threat of further disruption to our students’ learning and assessment experience.”