UNISON says scrapping outsourcing proposals means ‘sharks are dead in the water’


Staff at London Metropolitan University are celebrating a ‘significant victory’ over £74m plans to privatise all non-teaching services on the campus.

Supporters of the plan claimed it would allow the university to benefit from VAT exemptions put in place by Chancellor George Osborne in the November 2011 budget.

The provision was thought to have been designed for charities and NGOs, rather than educational institutions.

Staff feared the creation of a ‘special purpose vehicle’ would have been the first step towards privatising all services on campus apart from those tightly defined as related to teaching.

Chair of the UNISON branch at London Metropolitan, Max Watson, told UnionNews: “Our campaign has been vindicated: rather than negotiate, we agreed to fight the proposals outright, which severely delayed and disrupted their plans until it was too late to implement.

“It proved to be the right course of action: it shows that you can fight off privatisation.

“Others in similar battles, notably Barnet UNISON, from whom we took our lead and much inspiration, should feel emboldened by our success.

“Unfortunately, the university appears to have so little confidence in their own managerial competence that once again they are seeking a ‘partner’ to ‘re-engineer’ our support staff processes.

“This is yet another costly consultant telling them to cut jobs and services.”

The officials in the university administration have estimated the institution could lose a potential £3.4m from “failure to manage the changing portfolio of university services … including delivering the required return from partnerships, joint ventures and other initiatives”.

Unions on the campus say they will have to remain vigilant against the threat of further cuts.

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