University of New England management have been accused of not following proper processes as 11 staff look set to lose their jobs from the Printery’s proposed sale.
UNE claims the Printery is no longer financially viable and has courted expressions of interest to offload it.
According to official UNE figures, the operation failed to make a profit last year after suffering a $92,000 loss.
The university is believed to have viewed the deficit as further evidence of a declining need for printed material.
UNE chief operating officer Peter Enlund said yesterday the Printery was “struggling” to invest in technology and training.
Mr Enlund revealed they would undergo a “normal business process” with any interested party after deciding it was fast becoming an unsustainable operation.
He said he could not speculate on the possible outcome from the sale process and refused to guarantee the staff’s future employment.
The Express understands UNE must raise more than $800,000 from the sale to cover the potential cost of staff redundancies.
A disappointed UNE source said he believed management had not followed the proper processes or considered the consequences of a possible sale.
“I just don’t think they’ve taken them (the conseqeuences) into account because they know nothing about printing and they haven’t consulted with the people who do know,” he said.
“The Printery has all the good gear and all the good people to do the work, but they’ve just been cast aside.”
He warned the Printery’s possible sale would lead to a “diminished service”, affecting both staff and students.
“It’s going to be difficult for them (management) to do the work in-house and they’re not looking forward to that,” he said. “Most likely the quality will suffer and, ultimately, the students will suffer.”
The National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) has supported the claims, accusing UNE management of not making sense.
NTEU branch president Tim Battin argued the Printery was still financially viable.
The NTEU said in this month’s UNE branch newsletter: “It’s true that the Printery did not make surplus last year, but it was not far short.”
According to the newsletter, “management’s official figure of $92,000 was incorrect; it was actually $14,500.
“Even if this were accurate, it’d hardly suggest a lack of viability for a $1.28 million operation,” it said.
Mr Enlund refuted the accusations, claiming management had not made any final decisions.
He said the Printery remained incapable of growth.
“When we contemplate change, we have to consult staff,” Mr Enlund said. “We have to go through a stage-by-stage process, so no decisions have been made.
“The Printery floats around break-even each year and a viable business is one that can sustain itself, so that’s where we’re at now.”