MORE than 200 lecturers have passed a vote of no confidence in the principal of Coleg Gwent after two staff reps were suspended on the same day possible redundancies were announced. Coleg Gwent yesterday confirmed that two teaching staff have been suspended pending a disciplinary investigation.

But union officials said the action taken on June 6 against the two Pontypool campus lecturers, who are both staff reps in the Universities and Colleges Union, came on the same day lecturers were informed they could face redundancy.

Now more than 200 members of the UCU, which represents lecturers, have passed a motion of no confidence in the principal Jim Bennett and senior management, according to UCU official Roy McCabe.

Members also agreed to ballot for industrial action but the union is to hold off for the time being.

It is not known what the two lecturers have been accused of.

Margaret Phelan, of UCU Wales, said she was "outraged" at how the suspensions took place: "It was done in a very public forum in front of other staff and students. They were frogmarched from the premises."

"Clearly we have concerns that the branch officials were suspended on the same day that they are meant to deal with people at risk of redundancy," she said, saying the move took place on the same day lecturers were notified of possible job losses.

Roy McCabe, a Coleg Gwent UCU official, said the suspensions were "the straw that broke the camel's back" and were not the only reason behind the no confidence vote.

As well as redundancies, a range of decisions taken by management have hit members terms and conditions, while morale among lecturers was "very low", he said.

The motion of no confidence, taken at separate branch meetings at the four main campuses last week, was yet to be passed up to college officials yesterday.

Mr McCabe said the motion was passed unanimously at two campuses and with single abstentions at the other two, with around 50 per cent of the UCU Coleg Gwent membership turning up.

A Coleg Gwent spokesman said: "Two teaching staff have been suspended pending a disciplinary investigation that is on-going. This is an internal matter and is being carried out following the agreed procedures in the College’s Disciplinary Policy.

"Separately the College is in consultation with UCU following our annual curriculum review. We are working constructively with UCU to minimise the impact on jobs.’