UNISON’s City University branch is deeply disappointed to discover Sodexo, the contractor running catering staff at the university, intends to make up to half of those staff redundant.
There are 40 contracted catering staff at City, and the proposed new structure put forward by Sodexo only has 20 jobs. The 30-day consultation period formally begun on 4 September, but three weeks later staff are still waiting for details of redundancy terms and the selection process.
Furthermore, around 30 staff on zero hours contracts who work regularly at City University have been taken off furlough and told there is no work for them. Given that the government’s Job Retention Scheme runs until the end of October, it is unclear why Sodexo has made this move. UNISON’s position is that zero hours staff should be kept on furlough until the end of the scheme.
UNISON regional organiser Boyana Petrovich said: “The speed at which Sodexo is moving towards making redundancies is unjustified and alarming. UNISON calls both Sodexo and universities to put the welfare of staff higher on their agenda and engage in constructive conversations with us in order to avoid compulsory redundancies.”
Daniel Shannon-Hughes, the UNISON branch secretary for City University, added: “City University UNISON considers catering workers as our colleagues. They should not be facing redundancy while City is still a long way from any redundancy measures for directly employed staff.”
More than 90% of City catering staff are Black and/or migrant workers and are the lowest paid staff at the university.
UNISON believes there should be no compulsory redundancies at this extremely precarious time. UNISON is calling on City and Sodexo to:
- Work with UNISON to explore alternative working arrangements to avoid redundancies;
- Provide enhanced severance payments for any staff who choose to take voluntary redundancy;
- Allow catering staff to apply for vacant internal roles at City;
- In the event of the government announcing an extension of the furlough scheme or introducing a replacement, to stop the redundancy consultation or offer to rehire any staff made redundant.
Sodexo is one of the world’s largest multinational corporations and describes itself as a ‘global leader in services that improve quality of life’. It generated worldwide profit of £619 million in 2019.