UNION members have voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over possible job cuts at Coleg Gwent.

But Unison reps will meet college chiefs again today to try and prevent a walk-out.

Consultation on possibly axing 31 jobs at the college, largely administrative and office staff, has been extended until June 18, because of half-term.

The college announced last month that it was in consultation over the potential redundancies, as part of a drive to slash £3.9 million from its budget as a result of government cuts.

The consultation was due to finish on Tuesday but has been extended after talks between the college and trade unions, said a college spokeswoman.

In response to the original announcement last month, the public service union Unison balloted its members at Coleg Gwent for industrial action, as they felt compulsory redundancies and wage cuts were "a step too far".

Peter Short, regional organiser for Unison told the Argus yesterday that turnout was good and 80 per cent of ballot responses were in favour of strike action.

The college will be formerly notified of strike action tomorrow, he said, but union chiefs are still in negotiations with college officials.

"The ball is in the college's court, they can resolve this," said Mr Short, who added that the union's ballot procedure had tried to be run in tandem with the college's consultation period.

Last year around 20 lecturers with the University and Colleges Union (UCU) lost their jobs at the college, which has campuses in Usk, Pontypool, Newport, Crosskeys and Ebbw Vale.

Roy McCabe, lay representative of UCU for Coleg Gwent, said all five college campuses could be affected by the latest cuts.

"We are still very hopeful that none of our members will be made compulsorily redundant and I think we are not far off that, although we haven't dotted the i's and crossed the t's yet," he said.

"I think our Unison colleagues including support staff and office staff are not in that fortunate position. There are suggestions there could be changes to contracts which they think would be detrimental."

Last month Mr McCabe warned that the people of Gwent would start to find over the next year that certain courses aren't on offer any more.

Guy Lacey, deputy principal at Coleg Gwent, said last month: “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.”