Belfast Telegraph

Union to fight plans to privatise campus jobs

By Liam Clarke

Union leaders have vowed to fight plans to privatise around 215 jobs across the University of Ulster’s four campuses.

Shocked staff learned their jobs were being outsourced at meetings on Wednesday, just two days before the university closed for the Easter holidays.

Those affected include cleaners, porters, security and catering staff — the lowest paid within the university.

The move comes as the University of Ulster, the largest single university in Ireland, plans to spend £250m on a new campus in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

A university spokesman said the privatisation move was part of a drive to make “efficiency savings” of £6m.

From the beginning of August next year, all ancillary staff will be offered the opportunity to transfer to Resource Services, a private company.

Nuala Conlon, an official with Unison, said plans to outsource some of these jobs had been withdrawn in 2009 following protests.

“Three years ago we fought against the university with their intention to cast aside in-house staff and privatise them,” she said.

“We will do the same in 2012.”

The present proposals are more extensive than the previous ones, which did not include catering staff.

A university spokesperson said the £6m saving they were required to make as a result of higher education cuts represents 6% of the staffing budget.

She added: “University-run catering has been operating at a loss because of increased operating costs and a reduced income.

“It has been decided that from August 2013 the future delivery of catering on all our campuses will be delivered by external suppliers.”

The university said that all employees pay levels would be protected. However, Ms Conlon questioned how long such guarantees would last.

She added: “Pay, terms and conditions will not remain the same. Legislation can be used by private companies to lower pay, change hours and amend terms and conditions.”

Belfast Telegraph

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