SIPTU object to plans to privatise Main Restaurant

UCD recently announced that the Main Restaurant on campus was to be put out for tender. This statement came following the licensing rights to the majority of catering outlets on campus being given to Kylemore Services Group after a tendering process took place over the summer.According to an email sent out by the UCD SIPTU Section Committee, “the announcement was made with scant regard to the loyalty and commitment that staff displayed over the years”.However, a University spokesperson stated that, “following a tender process, contract caterers will be appointed to operate the main catering services at UCD. In this regard, UCD continues to comply with the Croke Park Agreement in the ongoing consultation with SIPTU as the representative trade union including confirmation that the employment terms and conditions of all existing permanent staff will be retained following the award of the tender”.SIPTU is demanding that the restaurant be retained by UCD in order to bring “an end to privatisation”, that full accountability be held for “managerial decisions which led to difficulties” and for “full transparency about the accounts of the restaurant” with an independent audit assessment taking place.According to SIPTU, UCD appeared before the Labour Relations Committee on November 19th 2009 and agreed to a trial period of two years to see how the restaurant performed, with an agreement put in place stating that “at the end of this two year period the situation will be reviewed by management: if there has not been a significant revenue improvement at that stage it is accepted that management will revert to its original proposal to appoint an outsourced catering manager”.SIPTU stated that the deficit of the restaurant was €470,000 in 2009, €320,000 after the following year and €70,000 in the financial year just finished.SIPTU claims that the deficit would have been even lower had “very poor management decisions not taken place”. These decisions included “a loss of €70,000 arose from moving the Sandwich Bar upstairs … a ten year contract was awarded to Britvic which caused an immediate increase in cost price – and a further loss of revenue … money from a private donation was used to create a private dining room – but this was then ripped out a few years later … costs for electricity and contract cleaning appear to be apportioned to the restaurant in an unfair way”.SIPTU maintain that UCD have ignored “significant improvements that have taken place in the restaurant … if UCD management can break an agreement and start privatising parts of the college, a precedent will have been set for all staff. We are, therefore, not willing to accept this situation and shall soon be calling a general meeting of all staff to discuss how we respond to this and other issues. We will not tolerate a situation where the hard work and loyalty of union members is thrown back in our face”.