Outsourcing closes the final chapter on centuries-old Oxford printing heritage, says Unite
- Monday 7 June 2021
Centuries of printing history is ending due to the ‘short-sighted and disloyal’ decision by Oxford University Press (OUP) to close its subsidiary Oxuniprint in August, with the loss of 20 jobs.
Unite the union blamed the OUP’s increasing use of outsourcing abroad and its failure to take up the government’s furlough scheme as greatly contributing to the closure of the Kidlington site on 27 August.
For the first time in its history, none of the output of OUP, which stretches back to the 1660s, will be printed in Oxford.
Unite regional officer Kevin Whiffen said: “This is the final chapter in a distinguished printing history at the OUP, but we feel that there could have been a different outcome if OUP bosses had not been hell-bent on pursuing their outsourcing agenda and the inexplicable failure to utilise the job retention scheme for the Oxuniprint workers.
“We feel that our members have been badly let down by short-sighted and disloyal decisions of the OUP management towards a dedicated workforce sold out on the altar of outsourcing.
“This decision follows the broader trend of outsourcing currently in progress at OUP. Typesetting work is now done primarily by external suppliers in India and the Philippines, and warehouse storage and distribution has been similarly almost entirely outsourced in the UK since 2019.
“And the recently announced closure of OUP’s warehouse in Cary in North Carolina is also in order to outsource this work to an external supplier.
“There is not much loyalty to the centuries-old printing heritage, and those who have given their working lives to it, in this world-renowned university city.
“The rationale given, that the existing contracts held by Oxuniprint cannot be relied upon in future, would be considerably more convincing if OUP itself hadn’t already approached Oxuniprint’s two largest clients - University of Oxford and the NHS - to advise them of the proposal to close the print house, prior to beginning the consultation with staff required by law.
“The OUP emerges from this shoddy episode with its reputation for good employment relations firmly in the gutter.”
Notes to editors:
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Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.