Union fury at more job cuts for CUP

Sabina Puri - News Reporter 8 June 2009

Cambridge University Press (CUP) is set to axe 60 local printers’ jobs in its Shaftesbury Road-based manufacturing department, as a more recent round of job-shedding has strikes closer to home. The workers’ union Unite has reacted angrily to the move, protesting to ‘the Syndicate’, CUP’s supervisory committee.
According to CUP, the cause of its losses is one of a less avoidable technological nature, with a change in production methods from lithographical to digital being at the root. CUP’s printing division has run at a loss for nine out of the last ten years with its bulky lithographic equipment described as ‘out of date’ and ‘not cost effective’ by Hannah Gregory, PR manager at CUP.

Ms Gregory told TCS that CUP are trying to ‘cut transport costs by printing closer to their foreign markets.’

“Although losses are being made in the company’s printing division, over the past two years CUP has created 114 new jobs in Cambridge in the publishing part of its business,” she added.

However, Ann Field, national officer at Unite union claimed ‘managerial incompetence’ as the real reason behind the job-cuts. CUP declined to comment on this allegation. Unite also described the sackings as ‘an irredeemable stain on the university’s 800th anniversary celebrations.’

The forecast figure for the cuts was estimated at 119, but was then cut by half after sparking protests. In February, a protest march took place in central Cambridge, with around 500 participants supporting the cause. Additionally, representatives from Unite union and the shop floor broadcast their views to ‘the Syndicate’, the CUP’s 18-member supervisory committee, composed of academics from the highest ranks of the University. The syndicate is chaired by Dr Gordon Johnson, President of Wolfson College, and includes Amartya Sen, former master of Trinity College and Nobel Prize Laureate in economics. Whether an intervention from the syndicate led to this cut in the proposed figure of job losses is as yet unknown, though Unite union have ventured this to be the case. Ms Gregory claimed the decision to backtrack is one of duty to its employees. Given the current economic climate, CUP appreciate the difficulties that would otherwise be faced in finding new roles, therefore they are ‘delaying wider cuts for as long as possible.’

CUP is the oldest continually operating book publisher in the world, founded by Henry VIII in 1584.

Sabina Puri – News Reporter