Unions left 'in the dark' over outsource plans

Senior management at a university have been accused of keeping staff "in the dark" about plans to outsource some support services.

August 27, 2012

Unions at the University of Sussex are angry that the institution has not disclosed the names of the companies it is speaking to about running its facilities management and catering services even though 235 staff face being moved on to private contracts.

In a statement, they describe the bidding process as "poorly considered and secretive" and call on the university to consult properly with staff about the move.

In May, members of the University and College Union, Unison and Unite held a series of protests against the plans, which they fear will mean staff being employed on different terms and conditions.

Rob French, branch chair at Sussex UCU, said: "There is no justification for keeping staff and students in the dark, especially when these plans mean that one in ten of the workforce would have a new employer.

"This entire process has been poorly considered and secretive from the outset. The university seems intent on steamrollering these plans through without any proper consultation or thought about the risks outsourcing poses."

A spokeswoman for Sussex said the institution was seeking an external partner to run the services "to ensure we continue to provide high-quality services to our staff and students as we grow as a university".

"We are following a proper and carefully managed procurement process in accordance with [European Union] procurement regulations. This is designed to identify the partner that best meets the needs of the university in the interests of all our staff and students," she said.

"We are following precisely the process and timescale as laid out in May 2012 when we first informed staff and unions of our plans.

"The unions are fully informed of the process that we are going through, and we continue to discuss our plans with them."

She added that the university was talking to potential bidders and that "this remains commercially confidential until a preferred supplier is identified".

In its communication to staff about the plans in May, the university pointed out that it already worked with a range of external providers to deliver services on campus, such as grounds maintenance and most of the cleaning and laundry services.

It also stated that staff would transfer to the new providers on their current terms and conditions, with the exception of future participation in university pension schemes.

simon.baker@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

Reflection of man in cracked mirror

To defend the values of reason from political attack we need to be more discriminating about the claims made in its name, says John Hendry