Universities face backlash for rendering half of catering staff redundant

A trade union at Birkbeck, University of London has said that a college contractor will make more than half of its catering staff redundant under new plans.

Earlier this month, UNISON Birkbeck released a statement calling on the college to take action against the move, which has been drawn up by Birkbeck’s contractor Sodexo.

Sodexo is a multinational corporation responsible for hiring Birkbeck’s catering staff. The decision to cut up to fifty percent of staff is part of Sodexo’s Covid-19 response.

This decision is not exclusive to Birkbeck. UNISON groups at City University and SOAS have released similar statements calling on their respective colleges to act against compulsory redundancies.

City University UNISON @CityUnison’s statement

More recently, a statement published by UNISON Birkbeck highlighted the need for university staff to have secure employment during these precarious times.

Edwin Clifford-Coupe, UNISON Birkbeck Campaign Officer, has emphasized the current demands of UNISON from the university and from Sodexo:

“Pause this rushed restructure until it is clear what the true extent of the pandemic is this Autumn and whether outlets will re-open or the government will extend the furlough scheme.

“If Sodexo and Birkbeck believe this restructure, in these uncertain times, must continue, they should work together to meet the salary gap for any staff offered new positions starting with Sodexo or Birkbeck in January 2021.”

In response to these statements, a spokesperson at Sodexo told LS that no comments can be made on this issue:

“Like many other companies in our industry, Covid-19 has had a significant impact on our business. At Birkbeck College we need to review our current structure and the realistic demand for our services. 

“We have begun the consultations with our colleagues regarding the changes we are having to make and we will be supporting them through this uncertain time. Until this process has concluded it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Header image source: https://www.linkedin.com/school/birkbeck-university-of-london/

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