Trade Unions GMB and Unison have slammed the University of South Wales for its decision set to sell off staff working at the University’s popular creche facility based at the Treforest Campus.
The facility provides vital nursery places to 100 children from the local community, staff and students, who have campaigned vigorously since March this year after the University threatened closure and the withdrawal of a £142,000 subsidy from the facility.
UNISON complained the decision to close would go against equal opportunities, by disproportionately impacting on female students, university staff and the female crèche workforce.
The campaign has been supported by MP Owen Smith and AM Mick Antoniw in recognition of the vital services the creche provides.
The University of Wales said in a statement:
“We’re a parent-friendly university with students from all backgrounds and stages in life.
“The University wants to keep the play centre open in a way that doesn’t make a loss of over £150,000 a year, and we are working with staff and others to explore all of the possible options.”
Staff were this week told the shocking news the self-funding models provided by staff as an alternative to closure of the creche were not considered a viable option, and that the creche would now be sold to a nursery chain.
Nicola Savage, GMB Regional Officer, said:
“We believe that there was never a desire to close the nursery, and naturally when staff were told that their proposals were not viable as a cost neutral alternative the decision to privatise to a nursery chain has caused much distress.
“Staff at the nursery cannot understand how their proposals have been simply cast aside when clearly there are significant profits to be made. Parents have made it very clear the value they place on the nursery and its staff and have demonstrated in two public rallies and a petition. Many parents have written to the University, MP’s and AM’s in support of the staff, and will be upset by this news.
“We are more than happy to work with the University to assist in maintaining an in-house service. Typically, outsourcing of services has a significant and detrimental effect on staff terms and conditions where the main source of profit will be made from driving down staff salaries as soon as the private company is able. This impacts our members, the public purse and our economy and is simply unacceptable.
“GMB and staff have complained that our members have not been involved in the decision to privatise, and that there has been insufficient consultation with staff when so much is at stake.”
Dan Beard, UNISON branch secretary added:
“Crèche staff are distraught. They have been totally cut out of this decision and the university authorities haven’t given them any reasonable justification whatsoever for the privatisation.
“We are willing to work with the university to look at where sensible savings can be made which allow this great crèche to be retained in-house. UNISON knows from bitter experience that when a transfer of staff takes place, the new organisation cuts wages and employment conditions as soon as it is able. Privatisation can only mean the service gets worse for the kids and parents.
“The depth of public support for the crèche has been demonstrated in two public rallies and a petition and we’ve been pleased to have the support of local MP Owen Smith too. We are going to fight this every step of the way to protect nursery staff and the quality of nursery care.”