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Union to make drastic staff cuts

Written by: on April 25, 2010

The Students’ Union has announced plans to offer voluntary redundancy to all its permanent staff. The Union has said it needs to find £250,000 of savings in order to secure the Union’s future.

“We have to make cuts in order to make sure we still exist next year,” said Andy Perkins, the Union’s Governance and Finance Officer.

It will not be known how many staff have accepted the redundancy offer until after 4 May, but the need to cut a quarter of a million pounds out of the Union’s expenses raises the possibility of a significant number of staff – out of approximately 100 total permanent staff – losing their jobs. The exact number “depends on who comes forward. If senior staff – who are paid more – accept voluntary redundancy, then we’d obviously need fewer,” said Perkins.

The Union insists it is doing everything it can to avoid having the cuts affect students. “We’re trying to be nice to the staff but also make sure we’re still a students’ union. We’re trying to cut costs wherever possible and looking at not targeting the student pound,” said Perkins.

“I don’t know yet [how it will affect students] – it’s too early to tell. Students shouldn’t see the changes, though,” said Bradley. The “principle” the Union is working on is that “front line services will be cut last,” he added.

If not enough staff accept voluntary redundancy, the Union will then “examine the need for compulsory redundancies”, the organisation said in a statement.

The statement also said that “the Trustees will … examine all options regarding structures and bearing in mind core activities, will determine a structure on which they will consult further.” Perkins said that the review would look at “everything”. Options being looked at include a restructuring of societies funding, reducing the number of sabbatical officers, and utilising SUHQ more effectively.

“We’re taking the opportunity to review everything – do we need seven sabbs? We’re looking at renting out one office downstairs that’s empty and others that are being used as storage”, said Perkins. “Currently, if you look at how societies’ funding and Warwick Sport funding work, they’re completely different. Any membership fee goes directly into the individual society’s account; the societies federation fee goes into a pot from which we allocate a grant to each society. We’re looking at perhaps moving to the Warwick Sport model for societies, where the individual club fees go into a pot [for all societies], which offsets some of the costs.”

Bradley echoed Perkins’ statements about the whole Union making savings, giving as an example: “Xananas are now even buying whole chickens instead of chicken breasts, which saves on butchering costs.”

The Union said it needs to save £250,000 because it is currently projecting a £100,000 shortfall this year, which it anticipates will be repeated in coming years as well. The extra £150,000 of savings is needed to “build reserves and include a contingency fund” in the face of potential financial hardships in the future. “It’s about being sustainable for the long run,” said Bradley.

Student staff will not be affected by the layoffs. “Student staff are flexible: if there’s a problem we’d simply recruit less next year,” said Bradley.

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