Chichester University ‘insources’ cleaning contract

The University of Chichester has brought its cleaning services contract back in-house after being outsourced to Nviro for the past 10 years.

UNISON was involved in negotiations with colleagues from the University and College Union (UCU).

Vice Chancellor Professor Clive Behagg, made the announcement to all staff there last month: “We recognised at the outset that the best service for the university might not be the cheapest. Part of the tender process was to produce a ‘shadow-bid’ for the cost of returning the service in-house.

“In January the Executive Team unanimously agreed that the service should do just that. This was then endorsed by the Board of Governors, with changes starting from 1 May. All current Nviro staff will be transferred (‘TUPEd’) to the university and will benefit from our more beneficial terms and conditions.

“They will continue to receive the Living Wage (as defined by the Living Wage Foundation, not Mr Osborne’s less favourable version) and will then also enjoy enhanced conditions for sick pay, pensions, flexible working and staff development.”

The university had previously made sure its contracted Nviro staff received the ‘proper’ Living Wage, which was no mean feat. It’s a concept that’s still rejected by the County Council.

Prof. Behagg went on to voice concerns about using contract staff to deliver a service: “For some time now I have had concerns about the delivery of this service by means of outsourced provision. In my view, it makes no sense in an institution that works hard to share a common vision across its workforce to include in that workforce indirect employees that have very different terms and conditions of employment, unless there is a compelling reason to justify outsourcing.”

“Nviro have done a good job of service delivery, but there is no doubt our cleaners are currently employed on less favourable terms than the rest of us.

“Initially the in-house cleaning service will cost more to deliver, but over the next few years we believe we can manage this into a far more effective service and gain benefits that way.

Branch Secretary Dan Sartin said, “The university’s refreshing approach to contract management shows an understanding of the damage done by creating two-tier workforces. UNISON believes that public services are best provided in-house and that in reality, compelling reasons for outsourcing rarely exist.”