Published: 17 August, 2012
by TOM FOOT
UNION chiefs have warned a university is “hell bent” on privatisation after it announced plans to sell off almost all of its services to a consultancy firm.
London Metropolitan University bosses have revealed a massive £75million outsourcing bonanza, igniting a furious row with staff.
Max Watson, chairman of the London Met branch of Unison, representing support staff at the university, said: “Our management appears to be hell bent on deeply damaging our university’s reputation and risk permanently scarring already bad industrial relations with the ideologically-driven privatisation of London Met.”
But a London Met spokeswoman said the university was developing a “pioneering approach to improving services by investing in our people, reducing cost and putting the university on a sustainable financial path”.
The five-year contract is to run IT, library and student management, consultancy and careers advice departments. BT, Capita and the Indian-based Wipro are on the shortlist of companies hoping to take advantage of vice chancellor Malcolm Gillies’ vision of sharing services between universities.
Changes to the tax system introduced by the government earlier this year allow VAT to be clawed back by universities that share services through a single private provider.
It means London Met can make huge savings and opens the door for a potential fire sale of buildings.
Unions fear staff numbers will be cut.
In July, Mr Gillies said there was no reason for universities to “feather-bed” staff costs if “we cannot provide them cheaper than private institutions”.
Mr Watson said: “Gillies should be listening to his own staff, who desperately want to improve our service delivery but don’t want to be decimated further by IT consultants and global outsourcing companies.”