Cambridge university maintenance staff being lined up for ‘misguided’ outsourcing deal, warns Unite

The University of Cambridge, one of the wealthiest and most illustrious institutions in the country, has been accused of ‘salami slicing’ over its plans to outsource up to 50 maintenance and estates’ workers to private companies. Unite the union said that if the proposal was completed by 1 April next year it would be a serious attack on its members’ pensions, HR standards and their status as university employees. It is understood that the first small group to be outsourced will be the lift maintenance team, which could be by the end of this year. The union called on the university’s top bureaucrat vice chancellor Professor Stephen J Toope to step in and stop these plans. To reinforce the campaign, Unite members will be staging a demonstration by admin, estates’, helpdesk and stores’ employees outside the Senate House in Cambridge’s King’s Parade at 12.00 on Friday (12 November)– and the university’s students were urged to attend to show solidarity. Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “The message from Unite is clear; however, powerful and rich an organisation is, we won’t stand idly by and watch our members have their pay, employment terms and pensions salami sliced in an entirely misguided outsourcing deal. “It is unacceptable that university bosses have been systematically under-investing in estates and maintenance for a number of years and then decide outsourcing is the answer to current issues. It won’t be.”   Unite regional coordinating officer Ian Maidlow said:“Our members in estates and maintenance have worked tirelessly and uncomplainingly throughout the pandemic to ensure buildings were maintained to a reasonable and safe standard. Their reward is to be told they are no longer wanted – no wonder, they feel betrayed.“The University of Cambridge is a very wealthy institution. In the year to July 2019, the income was over £2 billion. Of course, there have been major challenges since then, but you don’t meet them by casting aside a loyal and long-serving workforce.“We call on the university led by the vice chancellor Professor Toope to reverse its decision and negotiate a proper plan in the New Year to invest in this very important area.” As yet, the name of the outsourced company being primed to take-over has not officially been unveiled. Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers’ living standards.

ENDS Notes to editors: For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Strike action suspended after ‘constructive’ talks at the University of Dundee 

Unite Scotland Press Release

Immediate Release 8 November

Strike action suspended after ‘constructive’ talks at the University of Dundee 

Unite the union today (8 November) announced that its continuous strike action has been suspended at the University of Dundee following ‘constructive’ talks.

The University of Dundee’s Senior Management Team has now agreed to remove the Defined Contributions proposal at the heart of the dispute, and it will now work with the trade unions to explore all Defined Benefit options. 

Unite will now suspend strike action from tomorrow (Tuesday 9November) in order to consult with its members on the new offer. It is anticipated that an amended pension scheme proposal will be put to the University Court for endorsement imminently, subject to approval from Unite’s members.

The dispute stems from the University of Dundee’s decision in March 2021 to propose the closure of the Defined Benefits Pension Scheme to Grades 1-6, and to replace it with a Defined Contributions Scheme.  The proposal could have meant that lower paid workers would lose up to 50% of their pension plunging workers into ‘pension poverty’. The proposal would also have disproportionally affected female workers who make up 70% of the current scheme’s existing members.

Susan Robertson, Unite industrial officer,said: Unite’s members said enough is enough and took a stand against this injustice.  Months have now been wasted by the University of Dundee who up until now consistently refused to explore the defined benefit pension options which we proposed. It has taken the strike action by our members, and the unanimous backing from Dundee City Councillors to get them back round the table. We still have a long way to go as we may have won the first battle, but we have not won the war.”


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