Anger at university’s outsourcing of work

The University of Ulster's Jordanstown campus.
The University of Ulster's Jordanstown campus.
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SUPPORT staff at the University of Ulster were set to stage a protest against changes to their employment on Wednesday, July 4.

Trade union Unison has said workers such a cleaners, porters and security guards faced an uncertain future as the university outsources their positions.

Around 260 jobs could be under threat the union has said, with 70 of them at the Jordanstown campus.

The union organised a demonstration outside the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on Wednesday, July 4, while student graduations were taking place.

A Unison spokesman said: “We plan to distribute information among parents, students and graduates in an attempt to show the true face of the university’s leadership in its treatment of low-paid local workers.

“The University of Ulster is seeking to contract out the work carried out by direct employees. This is an ill-thought out attempt to balance the university’s books on the backs of its lowest paid workers.

“A new employer would almost certainly cut wages and reduce pensions over time. It is highly likely the quality of support service will be depleted in search of ever greater profits.

“So far, the university has refused to negotiate with Unison in good faith and instead the management’s strategy has been to railroad union negotiators into acceptance without a right to question.

“It is deeply regrettable the Vice Chancellor Richard Barnett, a previous critic of low pay in the wider economy, has failed to meet with support services staff, who are clearly now cast as undervalued members of staff.

A University of Ulster spokeswoman said: “Some of the university’s catering and facilities services provision is already outsourced and the university can confirm that it plans to outsource the remainder of the services.

“This will be done in line with the transfer of undertakings legislation and hence there will be no job losses for those who have permanent contracts with the university, nor will there be any change in the terms and conditions of those staff. Both the staff and the union were briefed on this several months ago.”