Hope for lecturers in contracts row

College lecturers working under the shadow of dismissal if they fail to agree to new work contracts may be given an 11th hour reprieve, it emerged today.

College lecturers working under the shadow of dismissal if they fail to agree to new work contracts may be given an 11th hour reprieve, it emerged today.

City College, Norwich, has been plagued by the bitter dispute between principal Dick Palmer and members of the University College Union (UCU), who refused to accept longer teaching hours.

Members were enraged earlier this month when staff were sent letters stating that if they did not sign the contract by October 11 they would be given three months notice of dismissal, which led many to bin their contracts in a protest outside college.

It appeared this afternoon that the turbulent times may have eased slightly following a meeting at the college with UCU's head of further education, Barry Lovejoy.

It is understood that Mr Lovejoy's visit was to try to persuade principal Dick Palmer to back down, although exact details of the meeting remain sketchy because possible changes to the contracts have not been widely discussed.

Vicky Wilks, UCU spokesman, said: “We had a successful meeting.

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“They've offered some sort of improvements, so now we have to go to our members at the college and see what they will accept these improvements.

“It means we're now in a state of flux.”

The UCU said college management believed lecturers were currently contracted to work 36 hours a week, yet many already worked well over 40.