Lean deal for Sport staff

The Glasgow University Gym

Credit: Glasgow Guardian / Rhiannon Doherty

Holly Sloey
News Editor

University restructuring could see job losses and cuts to hours

The ongoing restructuring of the University of Glasgow Sport is set to result in staff layoffs, The Glasgow Guardian has found.

Eileen Dinning, the Regional Organiser and Equality Officer for Unison’s University of Glasgow Branch has told The Glasgow Guardian that the trade unions involved in the negotiations with University management (Unison, Unite and GMB with the backing of University & College Union) have received an HR1 form. Employers must submit an HR1 form if there is the potential for redundancies of over 20 members of staff. The unions are in ongoing talks with the University and have submitted alternative proposals, which, if not accepted by the University, will require affected staff to be redeployed within the University or given compensation.

All of the reception staff at the Garscube Sports Complex may be laid off due to the restructuring.

The University is currently in talks with trade unions representing University of Glasgow Sport employees, which are expected to continue until 20 October. After these talks have concluded, it intends to meet with the staff likely to be affected by the staffing reduction. The University has also submitted an Equality Impact Assessment in its first stage. If the proposals are found to make the staff body to be less diverse, the University is required to act to mitigate this impact.

A spokesperson for Campus Unions (Unison, Unite and GMB) said: “The University’s proposals to restructure the service are shocking. The implications for dedicated staff are loss of jobs, loss of income, loss of work life balance, loss of job satisfaction and, worst of all, a complete loss of morale and trust. We’re looking at potentially 20 redundancies, half of whom are low-paid women part time workers.

The staff are already struggling to provide a gold standard service to students and the community. To reduce staffing further would have significant and negative consequences for the service.”

Rector of the University of Glasgow, Aamer Anwar, said: “The staff at the Garscube sports facilities are a highly dedicated team with decades of experience between them. They are also some of the lowest paid staff and many I have spoken to feel they are being treated with total contempt.

“As Rector I’m proud that we are the number one university in Scotland, but there is no point in our aiming to be world leaders, if our reputation is built on the backs of a demoralised staff.”

“When I became Rector I said you can spend a billion pounds on bricks all you want, but it is the staff and students who are the heart and soul of this University.

“If you treat staff as third class citizens then that will impact on the student experience. Staff already struggling to put food on the table or pay the mortgages are highly demoralised and there has to be a better way of going forward.

“Getting rid of all female staff at the Garscube Complex should set the alarm bells ringing, but there are also real worries that if restructuring goes ahead then the site will be left with a skeleton staff, not be able to respond to emergencies as rapidly as they do at the present which will put the lives of our students at risk.”

The structuring changes will affect the opening hours of the University’s various sports facilities. There is to be a reduction in the hours available at Garscube sports complex, particularly in the morning when the facility is not well-used, and an increase in the hours available at the Stevenson building. The University also intends to invest in areas which have seen a notable increase in usage in the past year, including exercise classes and cardiovascular equipment.

Anwar continued: “Reducing the opening hours from 7am to 10am will also mean our students cannot train early in the mornings at Garscube which makes no sense, when other students can go to the Stevie from 6am.
“The inevitable reduction in footfall, quality and student experience begs the question, what will be next for University Management? Is the end goal the selling off of Garscube, albeit management speak is that there are no ‘current proposals to do so’.”

Chris Holdsworth, part-time attendant at the Stevenson Building, speaking to The Glasgow Guardian, characterised the proposals as “chaotic”. He said: “there are multiple issues at hand here, but I particularly object to the disproportionate level of financial trimming that has gone on at the bottom of University Sport’s structure. You can draw a line on this chart [the restructured management diagram in the University’s proposals] and above the line nobody is losing money”.

He went on: “In essence attendants are being asked to do more work for less money which is neither justifiable or fair on staff, and given these proposals are geared towards improving the customer experience I struggle to see the strategic sense in this.”

“It is important to note that the consultation period does run until 20 October and nothing has been confirmed yet, but I am concerned by some of the ongoing issues that are yet to be fully addressed. For now though it is only appropriate that we wait until the proposals are finalised to discuss any other issues in depth.
“It feels very much like the University are squeezing from the bottom, which given the spending behaviour of the department, such as the recent thousands of pounds spent on fidget spinners, only compounds the financial losses that staff face.”

A spokesperson for the University of Glasgow said: “The proposed restructuring of Sport is currently out for consultation with staff and the campus trades unions. No plans will be finalised or changes implemented until consultation is complete. The proposals are intended to ensure we have the right roles to deliver the best possible service for students and staff. They will involve changes to terms and conditions for a number of staff, both men and women, at a number of grades. The total staff reduction will be approximately two full-time equivalent members of staff.

“The changes proposed involve an increase in operating hours in the Stevenson and a reduction in the hours at Garscube. The proposals to change the opening hours reflect how students and staff use the facilities. It is intended to make the service more efficient and effective and yield savings which will be reinvested in areas which are heavily used by students.”

A new position of Senior Estates and Assets Manager has also been created by the restructuring. This position has not yet been filled, but has been classed as a Level nine position in terms of pay grade, meaning that the successful applicant’s salary is likely to be between £50,000 and £62,000 per year.

The staff consultation period is to end 20 October, with changes expected to be made in the January of next year.