Reporter 455, 25 September 2000


Nursing a grievance

Kirsty McGaun
Media Services

I am writing to say how upset I am at the increased fees at the Fourman Nursery.

I have worked at the University for 11 years and am six months pregnant. I have registered my unborn child with the nursery for when she is six months old, so that I can return to work after my maternity leave.

I am only a clerical grade 3 and my husband has a fairly low-paid job. We also have a mortgage and the usual bills to pay. The fees at the Fourman nursery used to be salary-based and even though they are quite high, we could manage at a pinch. But now the fees have been increased to a flat rate of £125 a week for everyone. I find this incredibly unfair and it is also unaffordable for us. Surely it should be subsidised for low-income employees so that we can actually afford to come back to work. My local nursery, which is profit-making, charges the same price – but is open longer and provides free nappies.

This is not just my personal view: it has come to light that there are quite a few other angry parents and some of us are seriously considering having to give up our jobs. Could the managers of the nursery and the University not reconsider the fees?

Matthew Knight, director of Human Resources, comments: Because the building housing the Fourman Nursery had developed severe structural problems, it was agreed to merge the Children’s Centre and the Fourman Nursery in a new £400,000 building, to be jointly managed by the University, which previously ran the Children’s Centre, and the Students’ Union, which previously ran the Fourman Nursery.

A new manager, Angela Foley, has been appointed and the new nursery will aspire to the highest standards of childcare provision. It will not be run on a profit-making basis but it does have to break even.

We are trying to determine fee levels which achieve this and we want to be as fair as possible to parents who are less well paid.

The fee structure for such parents has now been revised and Angela Foley is in touch with parents to let them know how the new fee structure will affect them. We will be as flexible as possible.

At our expense

Dr Alastair S Watson
School of Civil Engineering

I was concerned to discover from my July pay advice that, with travel and subsistence expenses now being paid through the payroll, it is no longer possible to check which claims have been paid. Previously, the TS number and value of each claim were listed on the payment advice; now the system lists sub-totals that are impossible to check, given that which claims have been included is unknown.

It is bad enough having information systems that do not allow University accounts to be adequately checked, without having similar inadequate standards applied to our personal finances.

My understanding is that the cause of the problem is limitations of the payroll system. Until that is upgraded to address the problem, the University should revert to the previous system (which, I believe, is still used for claims made against the new internal order accounts). The alternative is that we choose not to take the financial risk of incurring further travel expenses.

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