College reviews 'caused mistrust'
Published 21/02/2013 | 18:11
Relations between staff and managers at the North West Regional College (NWRC) are characterised by fear and mistrust, a report on industrial relations has said.
Some workers felt devalued and members of the University and Colleges Union (UCU) and bosses were in a stand-off, the 84-page document added.
It called for work to rebuild trust. A total of 29 staff have been disciplined since 2007, a figure the report said was probably not beyond the bounds of what would be reasonably expected.
But the review said: "Evidence as presented suggested a strong sense of not being valued in general, a sense of fear/anxiety especially surrounding how performance matters and structural changes were handled; which has led to a diminution in trust across the college - not just amongst teaching staff."
The college employs 852 people at campuses in Derry, Limavady and Strabane.
The report was ordered by employment and learning minister Stephen Farry and compiled by Harry McConnell, who interviewed about 50 people including management, the governing body and teaching and non-teaching staff from different unions.
Many staff felt devalued because of the behaviour of management. This was borne out by middle management concerns. The review said communication had not always been open or clear, staff were not consulted on key issues and their views were not taken into account before decision-making.
Minister Farry said the college and unions needed to rebuild trust. He said: "This will be a challenging task which will require all sides to commit to a process of change. Management and unions at the college will have to work together to create this change."
SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey said a new culture was needed. He said: "The report released by the department today is an indictment of the management and oversight of the college.
"It is clear that there exists a culture of bullying, intimidation and fear and we need to be ensuring that today marks the end of that era. Openness is required to restore morale, trust and end the staff versus management saga that has been going on for too long."