UNISON has threatened to strike following the announcement of cuts and potential job losses at Coleg Gwent.

The public service union has said it is balloting its members at Coleg Gwent for industrial action in opposition to job cuts and wage reductions.

On Tuesday, the college said it was being forced to make £3.9m of savings in the coming academic year, in response to Welsh Government funding changes and restrictions.

The college said they were in consultation over the possible removal of 31 FTE positions.

Unison say its members at the college feel they have already cooperated with major changes in recent years but compulsory redundancies, downgradings and wage cuts are a “step too far”.

The college said they have already made “significant savings” through a voluntary redundancy offer and a reduction in their community education funding.

Unison regional organiser, Peter Short, said: “It’s always regrettable when we have to resort to strike action but the lowest paid staff are being severely affected by these proposals and the college will have to think again to avoid significant disruption before the end of term.

“Even for those not under direct threat, the workload implications will be staggering. We’ve been left with no alternative other than to run a strike ballot considering the severity of the cuts proposed and the need to move swiftly.”

Mr Short was not prepared to disclose at this stage, what form and duration the action would take in the event of a ‘YES’ vote, but did add that the college had every opportunity to avert action by withdrawing the current set of proposals.

Unison’s ballot commences today (THURS) and closes on June 9, with action possible as soon as June 16.

On Tuesday, Roy McCabe of the University and College Union, told the Argus: “We are still in consultation until June 10. We are still very hopeful that as a lecturing union, we’re not going to end up with any compulsory redundancies.”

Guy Lacey, deputy principal at Coleg Gwent, said: “I recognise this is a very difficult time for our staff and we are working with them and the trade unions to work out the best possible solution for both our staff and our learners.”