Preview of Referendum as Campaign to ‘Save Student Jobs’ Continues

The Gown can exclusively reveal the content of the ‘Save Our Student Jobs’ referendum. A student-wide referendum will be held via Queen’s Online (QOL) on Thursday, May 9th, on the topic of the outsourcing of Student’s Union jobs to private security firm G4S. The referendum follows a student-led campaign to have the issue addressed. Earlier this week, the campaign amassed almost 1200 signatures on a petition entitled ‘Save Student’s Union Jobs’, in the space of a single working day. Compared with the 4104 votes cast over the three days of the recent QUBSU elections, such momentum behind a grass-roots campaign would seem to be indicative of the widespread student interest in the issue. The petition was worded as follows:

We the undersigned students believe that the decision taken by Union management to outsource security jobs from the Students’ Union is contrary to Union policy, contrary to the Union constitution and part of a lamentable drive towards privatisation of our Students’ Union.

The Constitution clearly commits the Union to employing students internally to ensure that the ethos of the institution is upheld. The Union strategic plan 2012-2015, passed by referendum last year, commits the Union to employing more students and the President-elect Niall McShane made more student jobs one of the cornerstones of his manifesto. We believe the move to outsource jobs runs contrary to these policies.

We believe that this is Students’ Union not a commercial Union; it should be a Students’ Union run by students for students”.

In addition, The Gown has now obtained a copy of the wording of next week’s referendum, which poses the question, “Should QUBSU cease any further outsourcing of event stewards to a private company (G4S) and return to its previous policy of actively and directly recruiting students?”

Noting QUBSU’s commitment – as outlined in its strategic plan, 2012-2015, to “promoting and offering part-time job opportunities”, as well as President-Elect Niall McShane’s 2013-2014 manifesto pledge to offer “campus jobs and improved support and advice”, the referendum suggests that plans to outsource union jobs mark, “part of a creeping commercialisation… that is costing student jobs at a time when we need them most”. The union, it emphasises, is “not a commercial one” but “run by students, for students” and exists to advocate “the best interests of students”. Consequently, the referendum proposes that the Union and Executive Management Committee (EMC) should be mandated, in the first instance, to “immediately cease the outsourcing of event stewards and security supervisors’ jobs” and “halt any plans for the further outsourcing of jobs from the Union”.

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The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.