UNION bosses have slammed a decision by Sunderland College to spend more than £200,000 on a new office as 30 members of staff face losing their jobs.
The move has angered bosses at Unison who criticised the spending as “inappropriate”, saying it should have been used to “preserve” jobs.
The union concluded its formal redundancy negotiations with the college last week, following on from a major restructuring of the establishment.
The redundancies, set to affect 32 members of staff, are the latest round of cuts as the college moves to meet the need to make additional savings of £5million by 2017 as part of the reduction in public sector spending.
Stephen Mead, Unison area organiser, said: “When long-serving members of staff are facing redundancy or a significant cut in wages, Unison does not view spending money on new offices as an appropriate use of public money.
“This money could, and should, have been used to preserve jobs and could have been used more effectively in ensuring a better education for the students attending Sunderland College.”
According to Unison, college bosses “saw fit” to spend £203,719 on the development of a new office suite and meeting room for the principal and vice principals in the college.
The college announced in October that a 45-day consultation was getting under way as part of a restructuring process. Most of the roles affected by the changes are thought to be mainly non-teaching.
The college has five main campuses at Bede, Shiney Row, Hylton, St Peter’s and Washington.
The Bede campus is undergoing work to create a multimillion-pound sports centre and visual and performing arts complex.
Some £11million of the college’s development fund will be used to improve sports and art facilities at the Durham Road site.
Principal Anne Isherwood said: “The consultation process was designed to ensure that staffing across the organisation was aligned to meet the requirements of our students. We must ensure that we have the right resource to operate efficiently and effectively; this is vital in an organisation that has had to change in light of funding reductions and other policy changes.
“Redevelopment work is currently under way at Bede Campus to improve teaching and learning, and to meet the needs of both students and employees. These improvements will ensure that Sunderland College is well-placed to continue to deliver the highest possible standard of education, in first-class facilities that inspire success.
“The new offices that are now occupied by the senior management team are part of wider renovation programme that will raise the standard of all of our facilities – facilities that had reached a point of no longer being fit for purpose. Increasingly, we are hosting representatives from businesses, and the new office space will provide the management team with amenities that will allow us to work more effectively with these partners, links which are vital if we are to remain prosperous in the future.”