– Seanín Ní Connalláin writes about the ongoing campaign in Queens’ University Belfast to resist the outsourcing of security jobs to notorious security firm G4S.

ISLO - G4s privatisation

Over the past number of days, students at Queens University Belfast have been mobilising to prevent the privatisation of security positions at the Students Union.

Currently QUBSU employs 18 security staff, of which around 90% are current students or graduates of the university. Door security is currently outsourced to G4S for events, with the rest of the security being provided in house. At the beginning of April, security employees of the SU were informed that contracts they currently hold would be terminated at the end of this month (May 2013) to make way for the outsourcing of their positions to private security company, G4S. Employees are currently in the position of having to decide between accepting a zero hour contract with G4S or losing their job.

This move has met strong opposition from students across campus at Queens who would like to see an end to the privatisation of on-campus jobs. Students have been stationed throughout the university collecting signatures calling for a referendum on the issue. The number of signatures had reached the 1,200 mark within one day, when the petition was submitted on Monday 30th April. The petition has received unprecedented support and was submitted by a group including a former sabbatical officer, VP Campaigns and Communications, Fiona Kidd.

President-elect of the Union Niall McShane has had little to say on the matter, despite promising to look “after the pound in your pocket with more on campus jobs” (as printed in his 2013 Presidential manifesto).

This is yet another frightening move in the pursuit of commercialisation of the University and the Students Union in economic times which demand that those in education supplement student loans with part-time jobs in order to simply stay afloat. The outsourcing of student jobs which could be provided for in house must be resisted and, as such, all students should call for a halt to privatisation of jobs in the Students Union and across the University itself.

Since the submission of the petition, the team have released this press release calling for support, solidarity and a solid yes vote on the May ‘13 referendum:

“History made as an unprecedented number of QUB students call for a referendum to save student jobs.

In 2008, a decision was made in Queen’s University Belfast Students’ Union to outsource some of the security staff positions to G4S. Currently, the students’ union employs students and graduates. The door supervisors are employed by G4S.

Earlier this month, our security staff were told that their contracts will be terminated at the end of the month. They have two choices- take a job offered with G4S (on a zero-hour contract, without the support and protection that comes with being an employee of the university/union), or lose their job.

In a single day, almost 1200 students signed a petition calling for a referendum on the issue. To put this in context, QUBSU President Elect was elected with 1842 votes cast over three days of polling. As a result of the petition, a referendum will be held on QOL on Thursday 9 May.

The referendum calls for QUBSU Management Board to reverse this decision and stop outsourcing Students’ Union jobs and reaffirm their support for protecting and enhancing job opportunities for students at the University.

Tweet support (@QUBSU, #savestudentjobs) in the form of videos, posters and statements, and show that we will stand united in the face of attacks on our Students’ Unions.”