The trade unions representing workers at BMC (NIPSA, NASUWT and UCU) have demanded “that all political parties and local representatives raise concerns over these proposals and call on the Department of Education and Learning Assembly Committee to examine the evidence supporting these draconian cuts.” But asking the political parties who are responsible for carrying out cuts in the Assembly Executive to raise concerns over cuts is not enough. All of the parties in the Assembly support millions of taxpayers money being given away to private companies to take over parts of the education system. A new £44 million campus is being built in the Titanic Quarter. This campus is being built through a Public Private Partnership with Ivywood Colleges Ltd (a consortium comprising Pattons, Ulster Bank, Amey and Todd Architects) who will be responsible for the design, build, financing and operation of the facility for 25 years. So for the next 25 years private companies like Ulster Bank will be able to make profits out of our education system.
In 1999, a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract was signed which gave control and management of the BMC campus at Millfield over to private companies, costing millions while courses and jobs are being cut. The responsibility for these cuts lies with the Assembly Executive. Since 2007, the Executive has made £100m cuts to the Education, Employment and Learning budget. A report commisioned by the Department of Employment and Learning earlier this year criticised the BMC for poor financial management and included several recommendations about reducing staffing costs. NIPSA, NASUWT and UCU must immediately call meetings of all staff at BMC to launch an effective campaign to defeat the cuts, including protest action involving students and industrial action if necessary.