Sussex outsourcing opposition grows

Academic opposition to outsourcing at the University of Sussex is building, with staff from ten schools, departments and research centres publishing statements supporting protests at the institution.

Occupational hazards: registrar says centre staff do not welcome protest

Departments have increasingly voiced support for the protests since the eviction on 2 April of an eight-week-long student occupation against outsourcing. Together, the statements are signed by more than 140 individual faculty and staff.

The School of Education and Social Work, the School of English, the School of Media, Film and Music and the School of History, Art History and Philosophy, have all expressed their support.

The latter said the undersigned staff “deplore the management’s refusal to engage in…dialogue and its decision instead to evict the protesters occupying the Conference Centre, and to use a court order to ban future protests”.

Other statements have come from the Department of Sociology and the Department of International Relations, as well as the Centre for Gender Studies, the Institute of Development Studies, the Centre for Social and Political Thought and the Centre for Cultural Studies.

Members of Unison, the University and College Union and Unite have all launched consultations asking members whether they would in principle be prepared to take industrial action over what they call the university’s failure to properly consult over its plans. All three consultations will end on 25 April.

Students also voted to campaign against the outsourcing at the institution. In a University of Sussex Students’ Union referendum, published on 18 April, 70 per cent of voting students (1,264) said the union should campaign against the outsourcing plans, compared to 548 who voted against.

Plans to transfer 235 estates and catering jobs to private companies were announced in May last year.

An occupation protesting against the proposal was evicted after the university was granted an injunction over the campus, following a protest on 25 March.

Meanwhile four Sussex students who were arrested on the day of eviction appeared at Brighton Magistrates Court on 18 April.

Three were charged with obstructing a police officer and one was charged with criminal damage.

Lydia Dagostino, a solicitor acting on behalf of the students, said that all pleaded not guilty and that a trial date in the criminal damage case had been set for 9 September.

Read John Duffy’s arguments for and Gurminder Bhambra’s arguments against Sussex outsourcing.

elizabeth.gibney@tsleducation.com

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