Workers at the University of Sussex have formed a new union in a bid to halt the outsourcing of 235 campus jobs. The initiative comes from rank-and-file members of the three recognised campus trade unions, with the support of students from the now six-week old Occupy Sussex movement.
Announcing the move at a mass demonstration on Monday 25th March, a spokesperson said: “The Pop-Up Union is a result management’s refusal to engage meaningfully with staff, students, and the recognised trade unions for over 10 months. We are now taking things into our own hands.”
“A recent poll found that 70% of students oppose the plans. Numerous academics have voiced their opposition, and the local MP has sponsored an Early Day Motion in the Houses of Parliament. But university management are pushing ahead with this unpopular and unnecessary proposal.”
“We are urging all Sussex staff to join the Pop-Up Union so that we can stand together against the attack on workers terms and conditions that outsourcing represents.”
1. Outsourcing background. University of Sussex management proposed in May 2012 to outsource 235 campus jobs, including porters, cleaners, security and catering. The Pop-Up Union believes outsourcing will lead to erosion of workers terms and conditions and is calling for the services to remain in-house.
2. Legal background #1. Trade Unions are defined in law under the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992. The Pop-Up Union has been formed in accordance this definition. See: here
3. Legal background #2. The Pop-Up Union is in the process of becoming ‘listed’ with the Certification Officer, who maintains a list of all known Trade Unions. See: here
4. Campaign info. Occupy Sussex have been in occupation of the Bramber House conference centre since 8 February 2013, and have received support from well over 300 academics, trade unions and public figures including comedian Frankie Boyle, actor Peter Capaldi, and public intellectual Noam Chomsky. See: here
5. Local MP. Local MP Caroline Lucas has tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons opposing the plans, which at the time of writing had attracted 11 signatories: here
6. Campus trade unions. Three trade unions are recognised by the University of Sussex – UCU, Unite, and Unison. The Pop-Up Union includes members of all three, and does not intend to replace the recognised unions, but to provide a means for workers across campus to lawfully oppose the outsourcing proposals.
7. Union fees. Dues are set at just 50p per month, making the Pop-Up affordable to every staff member on campus.