By Danny Donnelly, University of Ulster Socialist Society
Catering staff at the University of Ulster in Jordanstown have voted unanimously in favour of industrial action to fight the proposed closure of both canteens on the campus.
Management have proposed that the canteens are done away with to make room for more private eateries, such as ‘Streat’ and ‘O’Briens’ who already occupy prominent positions in the main mall, with the loss of up to 30 catering jobs.
Although no deal has been announced yet it is rumoured that a local franchise of American sandwich chain ‘Subway’ may be coming to the University.
Eileen O’Neill, a Unison shop steward representing all the affected workers, stated that management are now trying to blackmail the workers into accepting redundancy terms by the end of February or risk relying on statutory redundancy – which in some cases means a difference of £2,000.
Eileen pointed out that managements’ actions are a real slap in the face for many loyal workers and are even harder to swallow now that the University is unveiling its new multimillion pound high performance sports centre.
A protest committee has been established which is asking staff and students to boycott the private eateries and help them to fight against cuts and defend their jobs. But the use of industrial action alongside solidarity protests from other staff and students also needs to be organised in order to force management to retreat. The UU Socialist Society has pledged to support all the canteen workers in their fight against closure.
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