University staff in Edinburgh to stay directly employed

Campus operations staff at Queen Margaret University chalk up win in campaign against outsourcing threat

UNISON has welcomed news that members at Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University have succeeded in preventing their jobs being outsourced, after a unanimous strike vote in October, with action set for later this month.

The campus operations staff – including supervisors, security officers, facilities assistants and members of the grounds team – returned a 100% vote for action on a 75% turnout.

They received “valuable” support from fellow campus unions UCU and EIS, as well as the Queen Margaret students’ union.

The UNISON members have been working under the threat of seeing their jobs outsourced for over a year as the university considered a tendering exercise covering the whole ancillary workforce, some of whose work is already contracted out to private companies.

But now they have been told that the university will instead run a “hybrid” tender process, under which they will stay as directly employed staff.

Commenting on the news today, UNISON Scotland head of higher education Lorcan Mullen said: “I am delighted that the university has taken the decision to keep these members in-house.

“With their 100% strike vote, and their conduct throughout the campaign, these members have shown commendable resolve and unity in the face of a serious threat to their future job security, pensions and incomes.

“Other employers within Scottish higher education should also take note: UNISON will not allow further outsourcing of low-paid workers without a similar campaign.

“Wherever possible, we will also work to bring presently outsourced members back in-house.

“Those who clean, guard, shape and feed university campuses are as entitled to quality pensions, sick pay and employment conditions as academics or managers, and UNISON has shown here our ability to organise members to fight on that principle.”

Earlier story: University staff in Edinburgh vote for strike action (15 October 2019)