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Staff and students announce protests against University of Sussex privatisation
Staff and students at the University of Sussex will be protesting against plans to privatise university's support services next week. Campus trade unions today (Friday) announced there will be protests on Tuesday (22 May) and Thursday (24 May) at 1pm at the university's library square (see notes for directions). On both days potential bidders will visit the campus to assess ways they could take over the running of the affected departments.
Yesterday (Thursday 17th May) staff and students packed a lunchtime lecture theatre to hear from union reps about management plans to privatise catering, estates and facilities management at Sussex University, transferring 235 workers, more than 10% of the workforce, from university employment to private contractors.
Employees from caterers, to cleaners, to academic, administrative and maintenance staff, were furious to hear about proposals that threaten pensions, pay, conditions and job security, not to mention the quality and price of services, including in sensitive areas like security, and health and safety. Students attended and the Students Union joined the three trades unions, Unison, Unite and UCU.
Union reps reported that alternatives to outsourcing appear not to have been openly considered and the idea that privatisation can improve quality and reduce costs seems to have been uncritically accepted despite abundant evidence to the contrary.
Spokesperson for the three unions, Maureen Winder (Unison branch secretary), said "If staff become employees of a private company their future pension rights and working conditions will change significantly, and we will have a two-tier workforce, as new staff will be employed on different terms and conditions. The plans were sprung upon us with no discussion about finding solutions in-house. The university seems determined to outsource regardless of the impact on quality or future costs, and this is devastating for the whole University community."
Sign the petition: http://www.ipetitions.com/
http://tinyurl.com/c7z38eo - directions to library square
Statement by the trades unions: http://www.sussex-ucu.org.uk/?
Letter from the Students Union to the Vice Chancellor: http://www.sussexstudent.com/