UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX TRADE UNIONS:
UNIVERSITY AND COLLEGE UNION (UCU) AND UNITE
Date: Thursday 30 April 2020
for immediate release
Unions launch ‘Crisis Justice’ campaign against job cuts at University of Sussex
The lowest paid and most vulnerable employees are most at risk of losing their jobs in a controversial review of staff being undertaken by the University of Sussex, warned unions today (Thursday 30 April 2020).
The University Executive Group (UEG), led by Vice Chancellor Adam Tickell, is implementing cost cutting measures as part of its response to Covid-19. These include reviewing and ending all non-essential casual and temporary contracts. Campus unions have condemned the move.
University of Sussex trade union branches have launched a Crisis Justice at Sussex campaign to fight plans that could see the contracts of hundreds of temporary and casualised workers under threat. Some of those contracts will expire in the next two months, and will not be renewed under UEG’s current plans. This will leave people potentially without income at a time where they will be unable to find other work.
The unions are calling for the protection of pay and conditions during the current crisis and an extension of contracts of casualised staff until after the crisis is over.
The unions said they reject the argument that these cuts are necessary particularly given the University’s financial health. The University of Sussex is in the top 20% of British Higher Education institutions, based on its net cash inflow, holds over £300 million in unrestricted reserves, and over 60 of its employees in 2019 earned six-figure salaries, including Adam Tickell whose basic salary is over £300,000 per annum (seventeen times that of the lowest-paid full-time worker at Sussex, who earns £17,361).
The unions said they recognised that universities are facing financial problems, but do not accept that the current crisis must result in cuts that affect some of the University’s most vulnerable staff. The unions said the University should be working with them to try and secure government funding to protect all universities, not considering short-sighted job cuts.
The campaign is launched with a petition -
- calling for the UEG to halt its programme of cuts, to provide protections for precarious workers and students, and for practical, humane and just leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic. Students at the University have already demonstrated their support for staff with over 7,000 people backing an earlier, student-led campaign against the proposed job cuts at Sussex.
UCU Executive member, Andrew Chitty, said: "The cuts proposed by the University's leadership are the worst possible response to the Covid crisis. They target the job security and futures of our most insecurely employed colleagues while leaving the pay and conditions of those at the top virtually untouched. They are the executive equivalent of upper-class panic buying.”
Unite Sussex Representative, Max O’Donnell Savage, said: “I was formerly working for Student Support without fixed hours – and, despite the fact that we have been on the forefront of helping students prior to the closure of the university, we have all had our hours cut to zero without any explanation or assistance.”
The University of Sussex Unison branch has given its solidarity and is opposed to any plans which may detrimentally affect the terms, conditions and employment of its members during these most worrying times. The branch continues to actively support its members who are affected by these proposals.
Crisis Justice at Sussex email: firstname.lastname@example.org
People available for comment:
UNITE Sussex, Branch Chair, Paula Burr
UCU Sussex, UCU Executive Committee, Andrew Chitty