Students protest against Sussex University privatisation

UNISON has strongly opposed proposals by the University of Sussex to privatise its facilities and catering services. We welcome the support by the students and their campaign. UNISON policy is clear that university services should remain in the public sector. 

Throughout the process the university has been secretive and provided totally inadequate information. It has embarked on the most costly and inappropriate procurement process (known as “competitive dialogue”). By dismissing out of hand alternative options, such as internal improvement, the university risks entering into an unsuitable contract that will not deliver the value for money, flexibility or innovation required.

Jon Richards, UNISON national secretary, said: “This ill-conceived mess could cost the university more money, not less; services would be worse not better; and the university is making assumptions about potential savings without clear evidence.

“The way that employers get cheaper services through privatisation is by cutting wages, slashing pension benefits and introducing poorer terms and conditions. Money is siphoned off into private profits rather than paying for quality services.

“The proposals will affect 235 dedicated and loyal staff, more than 10% of the university’s workforce. These staff have worked hard to support students, and improve services for the university, and are devastated at the news their jobs may be transferred to a commercial provider.

“Senior managers mouth the groundless myth that private services are more efficient and cost-effective than public ones. However, we have seen many cases where outsourcing is more expensive, lowers standards, and the pressure to return a profit means private sector management is less likely to value long-term investment.

“On the other hand, studies show that people who work in the public sector have a greater commitment and attachment to their work.”