Forty-three job cuts have been announced at UMC Limited, the subsidiary wholly owned by the University of Manchester which provides all the catering and food on campus.
This company is an outsourcing venture used by the University to employ catering staff on zero-hours contracts, free of any of the protections of in-house employment. The University raked in a cool £46 million in profit last year, yet now 60 out of UMC’s 283 staff have been informed that their jobs are at risk. As we saw last term in IT, management are trying to force these cuts through under the guise of “voluntary” severance packages — but if they are not all taken, redundancies will become compulsory. For those still working at UMC after this round of cuts, they have announced new contracts with cuts to salaries by up to a third.
This comes from an institution where senior management earn six figure salaries. Dame Nancy Rothwell was able to claim £35,000 in non-salaried expenses alone last year. The number of staff earning over £100,000 increased from 81 in 2013 to 204 in 2015. After gloating on StaffNet about finally agreeing to a Living Wage last month (the product of years of campaigning by staff and students), the University seems to want to keep this news quiet. That will not happen. We stand with the staff who are subject to the injustices which are coming ever quicker with the progress of privatisation and profit-making in education.
We will be organising solidarity action in response, and supporting workers in any industrial action they take. These latest announcements only confirm the trajectory of our university in the marketised fee regime. Whilst they rake in money from exploiting students through fees, and saving money through condemning their workers to lives of in-work poverty, management’s wages, contempt and desire to build flashy, cold, commodified buildings only seems to grow. We can fight this decision through collective action and solidarity with staff. And we will win.