‘Suspend’ creche closure move, urges UNISON

Entrance to the University of Ulster Magee Campus at Northland Road. LS24-506MT.
Entrance to the University of Ulster Magee Campus at Northland Road. LS24-506MT.
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The University of Ulster should “immediately suspend” its decision to close the day care crèche facilities at its Magee campus, says trade union UNISON.

Organiser Nuala Conlon says it’s time for the university to engage in a comprehensive consultation with both parents and staff.

The university has announced that the Magee creche - along with a similar facility at its Jordanstown campus - is due to close on July 31. It’s believed at least 30 jobs and dozens of daycare nursery places will be lost.

Nuala Conlon says there are a number of problems with the UU decision and that “parents and staff are the ones suffering as a result”.

She added: “The Magee crèche was funded through a European Regional Development Fund Training Infrastructure Measure in May 1999. Despite the terms of this measure clearly stating that the building must be used for the purpose stipulated when funding was applied for, the University have now taken the decision to close it.

“Also, despite a 2009 review, the University has failed to appoint a manager for the crèche facilities.

“The University have also said there will not be an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) despite the number of international students and single parents who will experience hardship as a result of closure.”

UNISON says it appears the university is determined to “abolish facilities even when confronted with evidence that contradicts their justifications”.

Nuala Conlon added: “The deficit is decreasing; the crèches have waiting lists and parents and staff have drafted a number of proposals to not only save the crèche but bring a profit to the University.”

UU, she says, should now consult with parents and staff.

The university says the creches run at an annual deficit in excess of £100,000 and are ‘no longer economically viable’.