Staff at UHI Perth’s nursery have held discussions with union representatives after finding out it faces closure.
Members of staff were told the nursery, which has 52 kids on its register, faces closure as part of proposed cuts set out by UHI Perth.
Staff have spoken out saying they have felt the communication surrounding the decision has been lacking and that they should have been told sooner.
UHI previously announced it is cutting 50 jobs in an attempt to plug a £3 million black hole.
Lianne Schemper, manager of the nursery, which employs 14 people, said: “Initially when we got told, there was shock, upset and anger but we still had to put a show on for the children to not affect their day.
“We’ve been told the nursery will close at the end of June and that there will be compulsory redundancies.
“For me there’s been a lack of communication – in the last week no one from senior management has even contacted the nursery.
“The parents have not been consulted at this point so they don’t know if they’ll have to find a new nursery.
“We’re a very successful nursery at leading good practice and we have a low turnover in staff.”
Closure of Perth UHI nursery a ‘big worry’
Lianne also has a daughter at the nursery, and is worried about the personal impact.
She added: “Personally this is a big strain and worry.
“I potentially won’t have a job or a nursery that we’ve worked hard to build a good reputation for.
“I’m also worrying about my staff and their families – it’s really difficult.
“I hope we can save the nursery, it’s not just about our jobs.
“We are a family and there’s always laughter when people walk in here.”
The nursery cares for children of students, lecturers and members of the public.
Katarzyma Bolesta is a student at UHI and her son, Teo Wolymski, goes to the nursery
She said: “This will have a huge impact on me and my son because I’m not sure how I’ll find another nursery – it’s too soon.
“I won’t be able to go to college next year because I don’t know if he’ll get a place elsewhere.
“This nursery is perfect because they work around my timetable.
“It’s difficult getting somewhere else – I’ve heard of parents waiting a year for their kids to get in at other places.
“I’m from Poland so I don’t have family here, it’s just me, his dad, and here.
“It’s tough – this is such a lovely place.”
Redundancy news a ‘bombshell’ says union
Representatives from Unison and EIS attended the meeting on Friday.
EIS Perth branch secretary, Sara O’Hagan, said: “We are absolutely horrified when we got this information.
“We were given the bombshell of a restructure and redundancy situation.
“We have been asking for months what we’re going to do with the financial situation – clearly they had a picture in their head.
“The union will fight it all the way – we want to negate as many redundancies as possible.”
Unison rep Jane Edwards added: “Our position is that this has been terribly handled.
“They have failed to face the staff or students in large groups and will only meet in public places – there’s no confidentiality.
“These are 50 compulsory redundancies and we think there might be more, there’s no severance scheme open yet.
“It will have a wide impact on staff, parents, children, the community, students and families.
“They are trying to close the nursery down in a 28-day period – less than the legally required amount of time – and the decision appears to be made already.”
UHI Perth facing ‘serious challenges’
Dr Margaret Cook, UHI Perth Principal and Chief Executive, said: “At UHI Perth, in common with the college sector as a whole, we are facing serious challenges with real term funding cuts.
“As a result, we are in collective consultations with our Trade Unions on potential savings proposals.
“This includes our UHI Perth Nursery and a small number of FE courses.
“We will undertake consultation with all staff impacted by these proposals and no formal decisions relating to these proposals will be taken until the collective consultations are completed.
“The changes being considered are to ensure the long-term sustainability of UHI Perth, while aiming to minimise the impact of the Scottish Government cuts on our students.”