BURNABY—In their latest attack on post secondary education, the BC Liberals are fastracking a new plan to slash jobs and money from BC’s already hemorrhaging college and university budgets.
Details about the ambiguously titled Administrative Service Delivery Transformation Project have been surfacing for the past week. While the province has dragged its feet on negotiations with CUPE college and university workers for more than two years, this project appears slated for implementation three months after it launched. In that time, the private firm Deloitte is to have completed a comprehensive investigation to “recommend shared procurement and back office administration services” across the entire BC post secondary sector. In the past, “shared services” and “shared procurement” have meant privatization.
A synopsis of the project launched by the Ministry of Advanced Education suggests “interviews with institutions” took about two weeks, while “data collection and current state analysis” took less than four. The final phase is slated to finish by mid September. It appears the plan is to be implemented for the 2012-13 school year. What is not clear is exactly how many jobs are at stake.
The project has targeted CUPE jobs at colleges and universities in everything from facilities maintenance, to grounds, to recruitment, to benefit plans, to printers, procurement and IT. Virtually all management jobs are excluded and only libraries, admittance and enrolment and ancillary services are marked for “further discussion” from operational positions.
“To steamroll a project like this through while we are in the middle of bargaining is extremely alarming. I don’t know how the province expects negotiations to carry on in good faith while the threat of job cuts hangs over the bargaining table,” says CUPE BC Universities Sector Coordinator Tracey Mathieson.
“CUPE college and university workers haven’t had a wage increase in years and some are already facing layoffs – now the BC Liberals appear to be targeting the very workers who make our public post secondary system work,” says CUPE BC Colleges Coordinator Ian McLean, adding, “You have to wonder about the timing of this entire project.”
The government already announced plans to cut $50 million from post secondary education by 2015 and insisted institutions get their stamp of approval on “savings plans” before completing contract talks. Those talks are virtually stalled at BC’s campuses after waiting months for that provincial approval.