Public services union, UNISON has hailed the news from the University of South Wales that its nursery will not now close as a victory for ‘people power’. The crèche was earmarked to close in September with 22 staff losing their jobs. The trade union helped to co-ordinate opposition to the proposal from nursery staff, students and concerned parents in protest marches at the university campus and through Pontypridd. It helped enlist the support of local politicians including Owen Smith MP and promoted an online petition against the closure.
UNISON had argued closing the play centre would impact negatively on all parts of the university community and the wider area. The trade union also complained the decision went against equal opportunities by disproportionally impacting on female students and university staff and the female crèche workforce.
UNISON branch secretary Dan Beard said,
“The crèche was set to close and it only has a future because people stood up and told the university its proposals were wrong and closure would damage the university and damage the local economy. Concern remains that the university will privatise the nursery and inevitably a new owner will look to make savings by squeezing the pay, terms and conditions of members of staff. These hard-working nursery staff must be paid decently. We can’t have a nursery and quality care for young children on the cheap.
“Away from the nursery, the university is still looking to make 59 people compulsory redundant. If the university had wanted to work more closely with us and offered a more generous voluntary redundancy scheme, that figure could have been brought down much lower. UNISON has approached the consultation process determined to safeguard quality teaching and student support and we have tried to be as co-operative and even-handed as possible. It doesn’t seem like a single highly-paid executive at USW is under threat of redundancy, despite poor performance indicators.
“We’ve said before, USW has slipped down the university rankings and student retention is poor. Not one of the people responsible for these decisions will suffer redundancy and the axe will fall instead on lower paid support workers who are simply working as hard as they can.”