Motion passed at Sussex UCU AGM, 11th May 2022
This branch notes:
It is UCU national policy, since 2020 Congress, “to demand that universities and colleges sever any partnerships with security or facilities management corporations that run prisons, detention centres or that engage in military subcontracting”
In late 2020, the outsourcing company Mitie acquired Interserve, who, with University of Sussex, jointly own the separate entity Limited Liability Partnership Sussex Estates and Facilities (SEF). Currently, the University owns 65% of SEF, and Mitie owns 35%. The contract is worth around £30 million pounds.
Mitie are one of the largest profiteers from the Hostile Environment policy, whereby the Home Office deliberately creates an experience that is as unpleasant as possible for undocumented and underdocumented migrants in the UK, including asylum seekers. Mitie runs three large Immigration Removal Centres (IRCs) and around 30 smaller holding facilities - these are detention centres: prisons where people can be detained indefinitely, at the whim of The Home Office. Mitie also provides security, vehicles and logistics for the Home Office to carry out forced deportation flights and immigration raids.
Mitie are, along with most other outsourcing companies, renowned as a terrible employer. They are known for underpaying staff, sending workers into unsafe conditions, and eroding employment rights.
The university’s current contract with Mitie ends in December 2023. Students, and staff within SEF, are demanding that at the end of this contract, all 250 employees of SEF are brought in-house.
This branch believes:
The University of Sussex should not be engaged in any partnership with outsourcing giants that profit from racist and xenophobic projects in human misery.
The University’s partnership with Mitie runs entirely counter to the spirit of its status as a “University of Sanctuary”
The branch should support, and strengthen, the movement for SEF staff to be brought in-house.
This branch resolves:
1. To endorse the five demands of the student-led MitieMustFall campaign:
(a) “Immediate and full publication of the university’s contract with Mitie Group Plc, relating to their part ownership of Sussex Estates and Facilities.
b) “An immediate acknowledgement and condemnation of Mitie’s role in the Hostile Environment.
c) “An immediate commitment to insourcing the ownership and management of Sussex Estates and Facilities, when the current contractual relationship ends, including a commitment that all jobs will be protected and workers' rights respected.
d) “An immediate commitment to blacklisting Mitie Group Plc and all of its subsidiaries, as well as any corporations that run prisons or detention centres, from all future ventures.
e) “An immediate commitment to working with students and campus trade unions to amend and update the university’s Investment and Procurement policies to be both more robust and more representative, with appropriate accountability measures put in place. The university’s practices must match its rhetoric, and its policies its values.”
2. To encourage all members of Sussex UCU to support the student campaign by:
a) signing and sharing the MitieMustFall open letter.
b) engaging with the social media (instagram and twitter)
c) inviting members of the student campaign to talk to seminar groups/lectures where appropriate
d) raising this issue in departmental and university governance meetings
e) attending the campaign’s outreach day (on campus) on 27th May, and further discussing with members of the student campaign about how to support and collaborate
3) To encourage all members of Sussex UCU to utilise any relationships they have with SEF staff, encouraging those SEF staff to join a union (Sussex Unite branch are currently organising around the demand of insourcing).