Access to justice in the Guardian — March 28, 2017

Access to justice in the Guardian

The Guardian’s excellent Aditya Chakrabortty has written about access to legal aid, and spoke to Liliana Almanza, a cleaner at the University of London:

“Almanza has worked as a cleaner at the University of London since 2011 and never kept her conditions from her employer, an outsourcing company called Cofely. Then came a new supervisor, who Almanza felt had it in for her and who piled on extra work. Almanza was sent to the “punishment floor” – actually three floors, normally handled by two people, but she had to do the work on her own and in little time. The extra workload, especially the pushing about of a hoover and a mop, caused her so much pain that she sometimes felt dizzy. Yet when Almanza complained, she says the supervisor either laughed or told her to sign off sick. Despite being required under law, there was no adjustment for her disabilities.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/28/employment-tribunals-workers-rights#comment-95640944

Tired of sending emails? —
Bumper IWGB press roundup! — March 27, 2017

Bumper IWGB press roundup!

IWGB has been in the news a lot recently, with another victory for a cycle courier represented by our Couriers and Logistics branch – here’s a roundup of recent articles (including a radio interview if you don’t feel like reading!):

Jason on the gig economy, on 5 Live Drive: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08j97k4#t=1h49m45s

IWGB in Selftrade news: https://selftrade.co.uk/news/excel-cycle-courier-wins-holiday-pay-case

On bike nerd newsletter Road.cc: http://road.cc/content/news/219747-self-employed-courier-wins-battle-be-recognised-%E2%80%98worker%E2%80%99

HR news site Personnel Today: http://www.personneltoday.com/hr/employment-status-excel-cycle-courier-worker/

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/24/second-cycle-courier-wins-holiday-pay-in-tribunal-ruling-affecting-gig-economy

The BBC, again: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39377500

Trade news site Tradebuddy: http://www.tradebuddy.online/second-cycle-courier-wins-holiday-pay-at-gig-economy-tribunal-business/

The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/03/24/gig-economy-tribunal-rules-excel-courier-must-pay-worker-holiday/

The Belfast Telegraph: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/cycle-courier-wins-holiday-pay-in-gig-economy-tribunal-case-35562709.html

There’s also one in the Sun, but we’ll leave you to find that yourself if you really want to.

 

Jason Moyer-Lee on rights in the gig economy — March 24, 2017
Cordant in chaos over security strike! —

Cordant in chaos over security strike!

BREAKING NEWS!

Yesterday University of London Security contractors Cordant told staff that ALL ANNUAL LEAVE would be cancelled for April and May because of the planned IWGB security guards strike. This included porters, postroom staff, AV – workers who have nothing to do with the strike!

Unsurprisingly, this caused uproar!

Today Cordant have issued a new decree – annual leave will now be authorised for all staff APART FROM SECURITY!

All of this shows two things – they are panicked by the prospect of a strike AND they don’t know what they’re doing!

Meanwhile YES ballot papers are apparently being returned on a daily basis!

Hasta la victoria!

Cordant bosses summoned to UoL — March 16, 2017

Cordant bosses summoned to UoL

LATEST NEWS: 

Inside sources have told us that yesterday Cordant’s senior management team plus lawyers were summoned to a meeting with the University of London, almost certainly to discuss the security officer pay campaign.

The University has clearly been rattled not just by the impending strike, but also by IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee’s email threatening legal action against Cordant.

We’ll keep you posted!

Not if, but when — March 15, 2017
Jason Moyer-Lee replies to Cordant threats — March 14, 2017

Jason Moyer-Lee replies to Cordant threats

We have received an incredible letter from Tanya Vittorio, a representative of Cordant, which claims that we’re not in dispute and threatens striking members. Our General Secretary, Jason Moyer-Lee, has replied at length to refute the claims that Ms Vittorio makes, and to affirm that our strike ballot is lawful and will continue:

Tanya Vittorio wrote on Friday 10 March 2017:

Dear Sirs,

With regards to the above matter. I have now taken instructions from our operations team and they in turn have discussed matters with the University of London (UOL).

Whilst we have seen the email from the UOL to the IWGB in 2011 we do not consider this to give rise to any contractual entitlement. The UOL were not in a position to create legal relations with your members (our employees).

As we have given no undertaking to ensure that pay differentials are maintained no legal entitlement arises.

In addition we do not accept your assertion that some of our workers are on zero hours contracts. The workers you are referring to are on annual hours contracts and therefore you have no valid complaint here either.

Finally, the pay slips provided to our workers comply with the statutory requirements. We are required to do no more.

On that basis we are not prepared to negotiate with you in respect of these issues and we are fully prepared to embrace any strike action you wish to pursue.  As a Trade Union you are not recognised and have no bargaining, negotiation or consultations rights.

I am sure that you recognise your members will not be paid by us for the days they engage in any strike action. As we are not prepared to accept your demands or negotiate with you, then your strike action will be of no use to your members.

At this moment we do not consider that a trade dispute has arisen and therefore any strike action by your members will be unlawful and they will not attract statutory immunity. The correspondence you sent to our operations team in January 2016, does not have your members support. There is simply no evidence of this.

The attached list of signatures is nothing more than that (a list).  There is no reference in that list to those signatures being in support of the letter sent. Therefore, we do not accept that the definition of a trade dispute has been met.

In addition the Trade Union will not be entitled to rely on statutory immunity either. Therefore, any strike action in the absence of a trade dispute will result in legal action against your member and the Union. We would also be entitled to dismiss any employee that strikes unlawfully.

We also note that your notice to ballot referred to the 1992 Act. We assume that you are aware of the recently implemented Trade Union Act 2016 and the balloting requirements contained within it.

It is unfortunate that this matter can not be resolved. However, the business intend to take a firm stance on this matter.

I will inform ACAS that conciliation is no longer an option.

Kind regards

Tanya Vittorio | Group Employee Relations Consultant, Cordant Group

and Jason Moyer-Lee’s reply of Monday 13 March 2017:

Dear Ms. Vittorio,

Thank you for your email which I have read with with a mixture of amusement and absolute bewilderment.  I would love to keep this reply short and snappy, however as you have managed to cram so much absurdity into your 13 paragraphs, I do fear I will struggle to be pithy in my response.

I am glad to see in your letter that your operation team has “discussed matters with the University of London (UOL)”.  This clarifies for me, lest I had any doubt, that the various unlawful threats you go on to make about suing the union and dismissing workers is on behalf of and with the consent of the University of London.

As you know, the pay dispute over which we are currently balloting security guards arises because in 2011 the University of London made a promise to maintain their differentials with other outsourced workers as part of the London Living Wage implementation.  The University has of course failed to do this and security guards as a result have seen smaller and smaller pay rises each year as compared to other outsourced workers.  The beauty of outsourcing from the perspective of the unethical employer is that it allows a presumably reputable institution like the University of London to contract an incompetent middle-man company like yours to effectively manage relations with UoL workers on the University’s behalf.  Despite the fact that the University paid for the London Living Wage uplift, negotiated the implementation, and the dispute regards UoL security guards, you appear to be saying that the UoL’s promise is worthless because UoL is not technically the employer.  Whilst that may be the case legally, morally it is absurd.

You then go on to dispute that any of your workers are on 0-hours contracts, by implication drawing an important distinction between a 0-hours contract and a less-than-one-hour-per-day contract where all of the other hours routinely worked are on a 0-hours basis.  Indeed this is precisely the sort of contract you appear to be giving security guards (see attached by way of example).  To be clear, if a security guard has a guarantee of 336 hours in an entire year, to be allocated entirely at your discretion, yet they routinely work more hours than this, for all intents and purposes it is a 0 hours contract.  The person has no stability, will struggle to get a mortgage, and is unable to financially plan with any degree of certainty.  The fact that you somehow claim this is different because he is guaranteed on average less than one hour per day is preposterous.  Also, the attached letter indicates you are not offering all security guards their entitlement to the enhanced holiday and sick pay to which they are legally entitled.  I expect that to be rectified immediately, not least because this issue has already been raised before.  As convenient as you may find it to have someone consistently check your work, we have a union to run and cannot spend all of our time trying to correct Cordant’s pervasive incompetence.

Thank you for reminding me that the workers will not be paid for their strike action- very helpful.  And thanks as well for the heads up that in your opinion the strike will serve no purpose.  I’m afraid I’m going to have to beg to differ.  You see after a few days of the University being entirely shut down because there are no security guards or receptionists, and the halls of residence unable to function for the same reason, something tells me UoL will send its lackeys (that’s you guys) to negotiate.

Incredibly, you assert in your letter that you do not consider there to be a trade dispute and as such you may take legal action against the IWGB or the workers and you may dismiss the workers.  Here you appear to be dreadfully confused.  The definition of a trade dispute, according to s218 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 is:

“…a dispute between employers and workers, or between workers and workers, which is connected with one or more of the following matters-”  Included in the list of following matters is “terms and conditions of employment”.  And further down in the section it states: “A dispute to which a trade union or employer’s association is a party shall be treated for the purposes of this Part as a dispute to which workers or, as the case may be, employers are parties.”  In other words, if we are in dispute with you, then the workers we represent are in dispute.  Maybe take a minute to just pause and digest that.

You then go on to point out that the Trade Union Act 2016 has come into force and imply that we were unaware of this as our letter referred to the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.  That’s because the effect of the Trade Union Act 2016 was to amend the existing legislation.  As such the relevant law is the 1992 Act.  So to answer your question, yes we are aware of the impact of the Trade Union Act 2016.  It appears maybe you are not.

You close by stating that Cordant is going to “take a firm stance on this matter.”

In trying to analyse the incredible amount of absolute nonsense contained in your email, I am able to come up with two theories.  Either 1) despite being the in-house legal person you are so incredibly unaware of the relevant laws that the analogy of a doctor not knowing what paracetamol is comes to mind; or 2) you are aware of the relevant legislation and are purposely writing factually inaccurate emails in order to try and intimidate your workers out of strike action.  If theory 1 is correct I’m afraid I don’t have too much to say but I would recommend Cordant and the UoL have a little chat with you about the basics of employment law.  If theory 2 is correct we will pursue you in an employment tribunal.  My guess is your response to this email will probably tip the balance in favour of one of the two theories.

Regardless of what the explanation for your ridiculous email is, let me take this opportunity to make abundantly clear what our position is.  Unless Cordant/UoL engage in meaningful negotiations and make a suitable offer on pay that our members accept, the ballot for industrial action will continue.  And any strike will shut down the basic functioning of the University.  If Cordant makes one more mention of the possibility of dismissing our members, or even issues so much as a verbal warning, we will pursue you to the full extent of the law.  There is nothing we treat with more seriousness than the legal rights of our members and if you think you can act as though the law doesn’t apply to you without consequence, I strongly suggest you think again.

Once again, thanks very much for your email.

Kind regards,

Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary, IWGB

ICE update — March 13, 2017

ICE update

Mark Murphy has supplied the following update on ICE mediation:

Hi everyone,

It’s been a while since you heard from us so you may have forgotten that today we attended a formal mediation with the University, UNISON, and UCU over the ICE Regulations.

The University’s proposal to mediate follows on from them trying to impose reps on staff (which was overturned in the tribunals) and trying to impose a deal which excluded reps chosen by level 1-6 staff (which was rejected in a ballot by all staff).

Our first proposal was to add the IWGB – the union levels 1-6 have chosen to represent them – to the JNCC so that we can negotiate alongside the other two unions.  This was rejected.

So we offered a compromise: a second, distinct forum, at which levels 1-6 would have equal representation to levels 7-10, and which would discuss all matters of importance to staff at any level.

The only thing we wouldn’t budge on is that levels 1-6 would have equal representation and that their chosen reps would be able to deal with the same issues as the recognised unions.  This was unfortunately rejected as well.

So the ball is once again in the University’s court.  We believe they can do better and as long as these procedures are on-going we will continue to do our best to represent the interests of levels 1-6.

Do let us know any thoughts or feedback.

Henry Chango Lopez writes to LSE —

Henry Chango Lopez writes to LSE

Our President, Henry Chango Lopez, has written to LSE in support of the UVW actions taking place this week:

Dear LSE

I am writing on behalf of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) to call upon the London School of Economics and its cleaning contractors Noonan to end their two tier system of employment at the LSE and meet their cleaners’ demands for equality as regards to sick pay, holiday pay, maternity pay, paternity pay, adoption pay and pensions, as well as the reinstatement of Alba Pasmino, the end of attempts to deny cleaners representation via UVW rep Petros Elia and a review of disciplinary procedures.

Should these demands not be met, the IWGB will be fully backing the UVW strikes planned for 15 and 16 March and will be calling upon all our members, supporters and friends to do the same.

There is no moral or financial justification for the LSE’s stance. It is simply racist and discriminatory to treat one set of almost entirely migrant workers differently to another set of predominantly white British workers, and is an insult to the progressive tradition of the institution founded by Sidney and Beatrice Webb that the LSE still trades on.

Finally, as it seems that history is repeating itself, this time at the LSE, we leave the article below for your perusal in case you are not familiar with our union or the similar campaigns we have waged alongside our comrades from United Voices of the World,

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/21/immigrants-taken-to-cleaners-living-london-wage

I await your reply

Kind regards

Henry Chango Lopez

President

IWGB

http://iwgb.org.uk/

IWGB given permission to appear at the Supreme Court —
IWGB Couriers feature in OpenDemocracy — March 10, 2017
BREAKING NEWS! Cordant contact ACAS requesting talks — March 7, 2017

BREAKING NEWS! Cordant contact ACAS requesting talks

Breaking news! The IWGB has been contacted by the conciliation service ACAS on behalf of Cordant, who have enquired about the possibility of opening negotations over the security officers pay dispute.

General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee stated that the IWGB welcomed negotiations, as long as Cordant ‘brought their cheque book’.

Watch this space!

Date set for Deliveroo tribunal —

Date set for Deliveroo tribunal

We have some major news on the gig-economy and Deliveroo: A tribunal has set a date to decide the employment status of Deliveroo riders, a decision which will be as important if not more important than the Uber decision of some months back.

This will have major implications for both UK employment law and future decisions on the so-called gig-economy, as well as on Deliveroo’s business model.

Saying we are very confident that the tribunal will rule in our favour and determine the riders are workers is an understatement. Our press release is below.

Tribunal to determine Deliveroo riders’ employment status in May hearings 

The Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), the tribunal that oversees the regulation of UK collective bargaining law, will determine the employment status of Deliveroo riders, in what could turn out to be a landmark ruling for the so-called gig-economy with national implications for Deliveroo.

The tribunal will look at whether Deliveroo riders are workers or independent contractors, the status under which Deliveroo bogusly classes them currently, in hearings to take place on 24 and 25 May.

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is confident the tribunal will rule that the riders are workers, following on from similar decisions by the central London employment tribunal with regards to CitySprint couriers and Uber drivers.

The IWGB applied in November for the tribunal to determine the riders’ employment status and to force the company to recognise the union for the purposes of collective bargaining on behalf of riders working in the Camden area in London.

The CAC has informed the union that if the riders are ruled to be workers it will decide issues related to the bargaining unit in later hearings.

Leading trade union barrister John Hendy QC and Leigh Day are acting for the IWGB in the case.

For years employers in the so-called gig economy have been able to get away with unlawfully depriving their workers of employment rights to which they are legally entitled. The chickens are now coming home to roost,“ said IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee. “In this tribunal hearing we intend to expose Deliveroo’s sham operations and force them to finally reckon with the rule of law.”

The union represents Deliveroo riders in London and Brighton, where there is an ongoing campaign to push the company to increase the “drop rate”, the amount each driver is paid per delivery, from £4 to £5.

The Brighton campaign has so far gathered support from the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, Green Party Co-leader and Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas, as well as several branches of other trade unions and local Labour party branches.

A petition on Care2 asking the company to increase riders’ pay has also gathered around 25,000 signatures.

For more information:

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, IWGB General Secretary

Jasonmoyer-lee@iwgb.co.uk

07771783094

University of London security officers union ballots members for strike action — March 3, 2017

University of London security officers union ballots members for strike action

IWGB today notified Cordant that the union will be balloting its security officer members for strike action. Below is the press release:

University of London Security officers could go on strike shortly, as their union has today given notice of ballot for industrial action.

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is demanding an end to zero-hour contracts, proper itemised payslips, and a 25% increase in pay for all security officers, increasing the salary of the lowest paid officer to around £12 an hour.

While the pay of other workers at the university has increased in recent years that of security officers has stagnated, breaking a commitment the University had made in 2011 to maintain pay differentials between different types of workers.

Cordant, the company that has the contract for the provision of security officers in the University of London’s central administration buildings, has so far been unwilling to negotiate with the IWGB on the matter of pay.

The union invites Cordant to return to the negotiating table to avoid causing disruption to the lives of the students, the security officers and other staff.

The IWGB is confident members will vote in favour of strike action.

“We are determined to take industrial action, which has been caused by the university and Cordant breaking their promise,” says University of London security officer and IWGB representative Abdul Bakhsh “We do not want to disrupt the lives of students, who we are here to help, but we feel we cannot do our job properly if the University doesn’t keep its promises.”

The strike would affect the vast majority of the around 50 security officers that look after Senate House, Stewart House, the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies, Student Central (formerly University of London Student Union), the Warburg Institute and five halls of residence: Nutford House, Lilian Penson, Connaught Hall, College Hall and International Hall.

The IWGB is a campaigning union, which has waged a number of high profile campaigns such as for the London Living Wage at the Royal Opera House and at John Lewis, and the 3 Cosas Campaign (sick pay, holidays, and pensions) at the University of London. Other campaigns have been waged over bullying and harassment as well as improved pay for university employees (London Weighting).

For more information:

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, IWGB General Secretary

Jasonmoyer-lee@iwgb.co.uk

07771783094

Aramark presses ahead with redundancy plans — March 1, 2017

Aramark presses ahead with redundancy plans

After an extended pause in its restructure, University caterer Aramark has this week imposed a new revised structure on staff. While there have been some changes, unnecessary redundancies are still planned. The IWGB has written to Aramark and the University to oppose these:

Dear Viv

We have now seen the minutes of Monday’s meeting.

It is clear from these that Aramark and the University of London intend to press on with a number of completely avoidable ‘redundancies’.

  1. None of the questions raised in our initial response have been answered.
  2. No business case has been provided.
  3. No justification has been given for why this restructure could not wait for the opening of new café.
  4. No exploration of the impact of these changes on staff with protected characteristics has been attempted.
  5. No recognition has been made of the negative impact the absence of a café supervisor has already had
  6. No attempt has been made to halt the spread of zero-hours contracts at the University of London.

The law is clear that avoidable job losses are not redundancies at all.

Should these plans go ahead, we will advise our members that they have strong claims for unfair and/or constructive dismissal.

Best wishes

Danny

Danny Millum

Treasurer

IWGB

http://iwgb.org.uk/

 

Donate to the Security Officers’ Strike fund! —

Donate to the Security Officers’ Strike fund!

picket

One of the reasons that IWGB’s strikes at the University of London have been so successful is that we’re able to get a very high proportion of members out onto the picket line. This is mainly due to the mass support the union enjoys, but our strike fund has been a great help in turning support into participation.

When workers strike they lose pay, so the ability to participate in strike action is often dependent on a worker’s financial situation. The result is that strikes for the lowest paid workers are often poorly attended, despite their need for better conditions being more urgent!

IWGB is proud to have supported members on strike by paying wages from our strike fund, but we need your help to make sure we can do it again. Our security guards have entered into formal dispute with their employer, Cordant, and we’ll be balloting for strike action soon.

We don’t take industrial action lightly, and we hope that Cordant improves the security guards’ pay and enables us to end our dispute. But we will strike if we have to. Our fighting fund is low, and any donations you can offer would greatly help our cause.

Please donate using PayPal – anything you can give will help!

Leo Zeilig’s An Ounce of Practice —

Leo Zeilig’s An Ounce of Practice

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Last night we attended the launch of Leo Zeilig’s new novel, An Ounce of Practice (Hope Road Press) – the novel is set amid an outsourced workers’ campaign, and draws heavily on Leo’s involvement in 3 Cosas.

As well as a kind introduction by Philip Murphy and words from his editor, Leo also gave the floor to Comandante Robinson, who gave a rousing account of the early days of IWGB (expertly translated by Camila) and Danny, who brought the audience up to date on the latest campaign around security guards’ pay differentials.

Congratulations to Leo for a great launch – we look forward to reading it!

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You can find out more about the book here: http://www.hoperoadpublishing.com/an-ounce-of-practice

Photos: Philip Murphy

IWGB enters into formal dispute with Cordant —

IWGB enters into formal dispute with Cordant

IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee has written to Cordant to serve notice that we are now in formal dispute, and to inform them that we will shortly be serving notice of our intention to ballot our security guard members for industrial action.

This follows Cordant’s failure to meet the IWGB’s demand that security officer pay differentials be restored to their 2011 levels.

Ballots have to be sent by post, so it is vitally important that we make sure that we have an up-to-date postal address for all members – please contact Danny (dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk) to confirm your address is the same as the one on our database.

The IWGB is calling on all members to vote YES for strike action! A strong YES vote will show Cordant that we are serious, and that we are prepared to strike if they do not come up with a fair offer!

Mmebers with any questions should email abdul.bakhsh@outlook.com.

If you would like to support the strike, you can do one simple thing to help ensure it’s a success. In previous IWGB stikes, we’ve been able to pay striking workers from our strike fund. Having a strike fund means that members who can’t afford to lose pay will still be able to participate in the strike. Our fund is sadly depleted – which is where you come in! Please donate to the IWGB UoL Security Guards Strike Fund and help our members to win better pay.

February branch meeting — February 22, 2017

February branch meeting

Our next branch meeting is taking place this Friday 24 February in the IHR
Mezzanine, 3rd Floor Senate House  at 12.30.

Amongst other things, we will be discussing:

*       Security guards strike update
*       Aramark
*       Asbestos update

English classes begin again —

English classes begin again

C49C-oMWIAAXbtI.jpg

English classes have started up again. They will run on Saturday, with a drop-in class that everyone is welcome to attend,, and an ESOL 2 class. Please contact our education officer Andres if you want to find out more: andressaenz@iwgb.co.uk

Las clases de inglés han comenzado de nuevo. Ellos correrán el sábado, con una clase que todos están bienvenidos y una clase ESOL 2. Póngase en contacto con nuestro oficial de educación, Andres, si desea obtener más información: andressaenz@iwgb.co.uk

 

IWGB issue Cordant with deadline — February 21, 2017

IWGB issue Cordant with deadline

IWGB met with Cordant representatives on Monday 20 February. As Danny reports:

The IWGB presented three demands to Cordant. It was promised that the first two would be resolved:

  1. With regard to payslips, it was agreed that Danny would liaise with John Preston, to ensure all staff were receiving payslips with a full breakdown of hours, overtime hours etc.
  1. With regard to zero-hour contracts, it was agreed that Danny would provide to John Preston a list of staff who were on contracts that did not reflect their hours, and that these would then be resolved.

All members currently on zero-hour contracts, or who would like to have a contract which reflects their hours properly should contact Abdul as soon as possible!

The third demand has not yet been met:

  1. With regard to pay, the IWGB position was that differentials should be restored to their 2011 levels.

The union has provided a deadline of Friday 24 February at 5pm. If we have not received an offer along these lines, or an invitation to a serious negotiation with Cordant and the University about these issues, we will start the procedures to ballot for a strike.

We can’t let Silicon Valley companies and their spin undermine workers’ rights — February 16, 2017
UoL security officers sign up to the IWGB en masse as strike over pay looms — February 15, 2017

UoL security officers sign up to the IWGB en masse as strike over pay looms

strike3.jpg

Many more UoL security officers have now joined the IWGB following last week’s meeting over pay, at which the prospect of strike action was raised and wholeheartedly endorsed.

Security officers have seen their pay differentials vastly eroded over the last six years, from nearly two pounds above the UoL minimum in 2011 to just 19 pence in 2017.

IWGB officials and security guard reps are scheduled to meet with bosses from security contractor Cordant on Monday 20 February, and intend to make the following demands:

  • That differentials be restored to 2011 levels (by our calculations this would mean an hourly rate of just over £12)
  • That zero-hour and so-called 365 hour (per year!) contracts be abolished
  • That proper payslips showing a clear breakdown of hours worked and overtime be provided.

Please do get in touch with dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk or abdul.bakhsh@outlook.com for more information.

Asbestos issues at the University of London! IWGB members plan formal grievance! —

Asbestos issues at the University of London! IWGB members plan formal grievance!

BREAKING NEWS! Since this article was published this morning the University of London have been in touch with the IWGB with partial answers to the issues raised. Get in touch (uol@iwgb.org.uk) if you want more details!

IWGB members working in the maintenance team are to launch a formal collective grievance against the University and its contractor Bouygues following a series of failings relating to the re-discovery of asbestos across the University of London site.

The site had been declared asbestos-free following a series of previous scandals, most recently in 2002-3 at the then  Institute of Germanic Studies.

However, it recently transpired that these tests had not been carried out properly, and that areas which had been declared safe were in fact contaminated.

Staff who have been working in those areas are understandably extremely concerned as to the danger they might have been exposed to. However, despite the gravity of the situation, the University has thus far only provided vague and generic assurances that the asbestos is now being cleared, and that the risks were minimal.

Meanwhile:

  • The University has refused to confirm that an investigation will be conducted into how areas were declared safe when the asbestos had not been removed
  • Staff are still being pressured to go into affected areas without adequate training or protective clothing
  • The University has refused to release the detailed sample reports from the most recent surveys
  • The University has failed to address a series of detailed questions on this issue submitted by the affected staff in December
  • The University has failed to inform other potentially affected staff, visitors, or residents at the its Halls of Residence, of these ongoing asbestos risks

As such the IWGB, who represent maintenance workers at the University, will be submitting a formal grievance this week, and pressing, among other things, for a full formal enquiry.

Please feel free to get in touch with any concerns via uol@iwgb.org.uk.

London Legal Support Trust accreditation — February 13, 2017

London Legal Support Trust accreditation

The IWGB has been given a grant of £10,000 from the London Legal Support Trust (LLST), to help support the activities of our  Legal Department, and as part of the process of becoming an accredited LLST Centre of Excellence. As well as an ongoing independent review of our activities, this will allow us to access more advice and support from the Trust and apply for further funding.

Watch this space for more info!

Weekend news roundup —

Weekend news roundup

Radio Free Brighton’s Davy Jones podcast this week featured Tim, a Deliveroo rider, and our General Secretary, Jason Moyer-Lee: https://www.mixcloud.com/RadioFreeBrighton/rfb-davy-jones-interviews-tim-a-local-deliveroo-rider-and-jason-from-the-iwgb-about-deliveroo/

And the BBC has produced this handy explainer on the gig economy and what it means for workers in different industries: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38930048

IWGB asks for clarification on Cordant contracts — February 10, 2017

IWGB asks for clarification on Cordant contracts

Yesterday IWGB Treasurer Danny Millum wrote to Kim Frost, raising issues around cleaners’ contracts and the University’s negotiations with Cordant. The text of the email is below, with an example zero-hours contract letter. We look forward to his swift response…

 

9 February 2017

Dear Kim

I am writing on behalf of cleaning staff working for the contractor Cordant to bring to the University of London’s attention serious failings with the way certain aspects of the contract are being handled.

Shortly after Cordant took over, a number of permanent cleaning positions were advertised internally, and various cleaners applied for these, and were interviewed.

These posts were of great importance – many of those applying work just three hours a day, and these extra hours would have allowed them to earn closer to a full-time salary while remaining in the same workplace.

However, following the interviews:

  • no appointments were made
  • no outcome was provided to any of the applicants
  • despite numerous enquiries, no explanation was provided as to why the appointment process had been suspended
  • following union intervention, Cordant stated in September that the process had been halted while a revaluation of the contract was done, but that this would be resolved shortly
  • instead these posts continued to be filled by temporary summer staff, who had never applied for the positions or been interviewed, but whose contracts were extended beyond the normal September cutoff point
  • following numerous other requests for information, the employees eventually filed a collective grievance on the 13 December, which was not heard until the 16 January, and for which an outcome was only provided today, on the 9 February
  • the outcome gave no detail, but merely stated that negotations were ongoing bewteen the University of London and Cordant, and that no timescale could be given
  • in the meantime, despite assurances to the contrary, temporary staff are now being issued with zero-hour contracts (see attached) while they continue to fill these posts.

We have been given no option but to bring this matter to the University’s attention, and ask:

  1. Is the University aware that its contractor has left staff who attended interviews in good faith for nearly a year with no outcome?
  2. Is the University aware that its contractor (until forced to do so by a formal grievance) failed to respond to staff requests for information for months on end?
  3. Is the University aware that its contractor is now employing staff on zero-hour contracts?
  4. Is the University aware that its contractor is claiming that negotiations over the contract have taken over ten months – and are still not resolved?
  5. Is the University aware that the consequence of this has meant that a significant number of permanent cleaning positions have been left unfilled for over ten months – with the work being done instead by temporary staff who were not required to interview?
  6. It cannot be the case that resolving the hours required on this contract should take so long – either Cordant or the University are responsible for this. Which is it?

The affected cleaners feel extremely disrespected and poorly treated – they simply wish for these posts to be awarded fairly to those who originally interviewed for them.

They are in the process of appealing the decision, and considering legal action. In the meantime, we would ask the University to clarify the contract, and compel its contractor to fulfil its obligations to staff. In addition, if it turns out that the University is condoning the use of zero-hour contracts by Cordant, we will be calling attention to this by all means possible.

If you could respond to this as soon as possible that would be much appreciated.

Best wishes,

Danny Millum

Treasurer

IWGB

The Guardian on the gig economy — February 8, 2017
Assistant Branch Secretary and Communications Officer elections — February 7, 2017

Assistant Branch Secretary and Communications Officer elections

At the last round of branch meetings we held an election to the new position of Assistant Branch Secretary. This post was established to take some of the workload and pressure off our very hardworking Branch Secretary, Catherine. Rebecca Dooley stood for the post and was elected – so congratulations to Rebecca, and good luck!

Rebecca’s election left a vacancy for the post of Communications Officer. Matt Mahon was elected to the post – and he’s still getting to grips with all the logins, but normal service will resume soon…

IWGB and University of London feature in new novel – come to the launch! — February 1, 2017

IWGB and University of London feature in new novel – come to the launch!

an_ounce_standard-175x259The IWGB’s Leo Zeilig has just published his second novel – and it revolves around a lightly fictionalised account of the 2013 3 Cosas struggle at the University of London!

Leo tell us:

‘As I mentioned it is a strange story (about a very distracted blogger/ lecturer on a temporary contract, who gets involved in a struggle at his university of cleaners and security guards and then travels to Zimbabwe). Obviously the story is, in part, a celebration of the battles that workers at Senate House have been involved in.’

There have clearly been some other elements of poetic licence taken, as one reviewer refers to a novel of ‘digital activism and sex’ – Leo was obviously on a different picket line to us!

leo_zeilig-100x145
Dr Leo Zeilig doing his best impassioned activist impression…

Anyway, all members are welcome to come to the launch! Leo has promised booze and music, and it will take place on 28 Feb, G22/26, Senate House, University of London, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU – 6pm.

Just drop Leo a line (leo.zeilig@sas.ac.uk) if you fancy it…

Security Officer pay – meeting planned for next week —

Security Officer pay – meeting planned for next week

business-commerce-pay_rise-pay_reviews-pay_rises-stingy_boss-mean_boss-cza0592l-jpgOver the last 5 years, pay increases for security officers at the University of London have fallen behind those of other staff.

In 2012 a security officer could expect to earn nearly two pounds an hour more than a cleaner.

Now the difference in many cases is only 19 pence.

This takes no account of the extra training and qualifications required by security – or of the extra risks that they take to protect the University.

The IWGB is organising a meeting for all security staff to discuss this issue and what we can do about it.

Please contact Abdul Bakhsh at abdul.bakhsh@outlook.com  or on 07595950448 and let us know the time that suits you the best.

Members and non-members welcome.

JOB OPPORTUNITY – Legal Department Co-ordinator —

JOB OPPORTUNITY – Legal Department Co-ordinator

jobs_imageThe IWGB is proud to announce that it is currently hiring a new Legal Department Co-ordinator! There is a full job description along with an introduction of the IWGB in the link. To apply, please email your CV and a cover letter to Jon Katona (IWGB Vice-President) at jonkatona@iwgb.co.uk.

Deadline for applications: 12.00 (noon), Saturday 4 February 2017.

Please also include the details of two professional references.

The role

The main responsibilities of the post are to:

  • ensure union members are allocated to a case worker when they have a case
  • manage a case load of grievances, disciplinaries and (when sufficiently experienced) employment tribunals
  • guide a maximum of two volunteer caseworker(s) through cases and ensure the quality of training and legal work in the department
  • provide regular legal surgeries/advice clinics to the public on employment law matters
  • prepare tribunal claims and bundles, documentation etc.
  • ensure the smooth operation of the IWGB Legal Department
  • instruct barristers for Employment Tribunal cases
  • communicate with and regularly update the union’s management about the work of the Legal Department
  • maintain data management processes and keep members informed while acting in accordance with their needs
  • undertake any other duties appropriate to the post and help other staff maintain the smooth running of the union’s head office.

Person specification

Essential

  • Hold a law degree and have a good knowledge of UK employment law.
  • Have extensive experience of employment-related case work.
  • Grasp the IWGB’s approach and be personally committed to social justice and the improvement of working conditions.
  • Have demonstrable supervisory and/or managerial experience.
  • Have good computer skills, including a knowledge of MS Office including Excel.
  • Have a high level of personal organisation and an ability to deal with a demanding and stressful job.
  • Be able to work independently and in a team.

Desirable

  • Have a high level of spoken Spanish or a facility with another Southern-European language.
  • Have been an active member of a union or have knowledge of the trade union movement.
IWGB fights for payrise for UoL security officers — January 25, 2017

IWGB fights for payrise for UoL security officers

Security officers at the University of London are currently in talks with management over this year’s payrise, which has seen a further erosion of differentials with other staff.

See below for the letter the IWGB sent to Cordant yesterday (and please do contact dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk with any questions).

We are writing following receipt of your letter inviting us to an open day to discuss this year’s pay increase.

While we welcome the opportunity to engage over this, we would like to stress that this is a collective issue rather than an individual one, and needs to be resolved as such.

As you know, since the implementation of the London Living Wage at the University of London in 2012, the differentials between security staff and lower-paid workers have been eroded year-on-year.

Whereas once the hourly pay rates for security staff were almost two pounds higher than those for cleaners, the difference in many cases now is just a few pence.

While we are pleased that our colleagues have enjoyed these pay increases, it is unfair that we have been treated differently, especially as Kim Frost (then Director of HR) promised when the LLW was introduced that pay differentials would be maintained.

As such, we do not believe that 1.65% increase is adequate. Instead, we would request as a minimum that the rate for security staff be raised to at least £1.00 above that of the LLW minimum (eg £10.75 from November 2016) and that Cordant and the University in the future commit to restoring our previous differentials as per 2012.

We will be happy to meet with you as a group to discuss this issue on Wednesday, and would like to be accompanied by our trade union representative.

Best wishes

Members of your security team

Branch meeting this week – Friday 27 and Saturday 28! — January 24, 2017

Branch meeting this week – Friday 27 and Saturday 28!

trump

All members are invited to attend the first branch meetings of 2017, which will take place on:

  • Friday 27 January, 12.30, IHR Lower Mezzanine Room (accessed via 3rd floor Senate House)
  • Saturday 28 January, 1.30, IWGB Office (12-20 Baron Street, N1 9LL).

As ever, there’s already a lot going on, and we’ll be discussing (among other things) the Aramark campaign, the Women’s March last Saturday, security guards pay, voluntary redundancy issues at Health Education England and London Living Wage issues at the Royal College of Music.

You will also get the opportunity to vote or even stand for the positions of Communications Officer and Assistant Secretary.

Any questions or suggestions for the agenda, please do get in touch with catherinemorrissey@iwgb.org.uk.

“With mediation, there are 2 outcomes: either it fails, or everyone goes away disappointed!” – ICE latest — January 19, 2017

“With mediation, there are 2 outcomes: either it fails, or everyone goes away disappointed!” – ICE latest

The initial ICE meeting with Oliver Segall QC took place last week – see below for Mark and Rebecca’s update…

Happy New Year! We are writing with an update on the ICE negotiations.

Following the ballot at the end of last year, where staff voted to reject the proposal put forward by the University, Unison and UCU, the University has decided to take a new approach to securing an agreement and has employed a mediator.

On Friday all five representatives met with Oliver Segal QC (http://www.oldsquare.co.uk/our-people/profile/oliver-segal-qc) to see whether we thought he would be suitable for this role.

We came away reassured as to his experience and expertise (and neutrality!), and we were also happy with the role he proposed for himself, which would largely be as a facilitator, seeking common ground among the different parties.

As he jokingly put it, “with mediation, there are 2 outcomes: either it fails, or everyone goes away disappointed!”.

The plan now is have a full day meeting, with the hope that the outcome will be an agreement we can all sign up to – this is taking place on 10 March.

We won’t sign up to anything that we think isn’t in the best interests of staff, and any agreement must ensure proper representation for staff in Levels 1-6.

We will write again after the mediation has taken place, hopefully spreading good news of an agreement!

As always, please get in touch with any questions or suggestions (rebecca.dooley@london.ac.uk).

Best wishes

Rebecca and Mark

Levels 1-6 ICE negotiation representatives

IWGB Sadiq Scholarship – first ESOL certificates awarded — January 18, 2017

IWGB Sadiq Scholarship – first ESOL certificates awarded

presentation

Last Saturday saw the awards ceremony for the IWGB’s Sadiq Scholarship, with students receiving their ESOL certificates of completion.

This course has been made possible by the generosity of our funder, who got in touch having read news reports of the IWGB’s activities and wanted to help in a practical way.

The intensive classes have enabled the reps who took them to make massive progress, and in further good news we have secured funding for the next set of classes, which will commence in the next few weeks.

For more information please contact Andres, our Education Officer (andresrogarth@gmail.com).

Treasurer’s report / Informe del tesorero — January 17, 2017

Treasurer’s report / Informe del tesorero

The Treasurer’s Statement presented to our December general meeting is now available here. If you have any questions or would like any additional information please just contact Danny at dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk.

La declaracion del tesorero presentada en la reunion de los delegados generales en diciembre esta ahora disponible online en http://bit.ly/2iDgA65. Si teneis cualquier pregunta mandad un mensaje a Danny en el 07783719479 / dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk.

ICE talks resume this Friday — January 11, 2017

ICE talks resume this Friday

y-segal-200x300
Oliver Segall QC

Just a quick notice to remind you that after a series of postponements at the end of last year we will finally be meeting the University’s proposed mediator, Oliver Segall QC, on Friday.

At this first meeting the IWGB’s indefatigable negotiating reps, Rebecca Dooley and Mark Murphy, will aim to find out exactly how this planned mediation will work, and we will be sure to feed back to staff as soon as possible re the details.

Watch this space!

Radical voices exhibition opens next week – Senate House Library — January 10, 2017

Radical voices exhibition opens next week – Senate House Library

radicalvoiceslogowithblogstextWe thought that this exhibition might be of interest to members – it’s just upstairs in the library on the 4th floor of Senate House, and is well worth checking out!

Senate House Library is hosting a free exhibition and series of events running from the 16th of January through March 2017, displaying and promoting the library collections of those who defined themselves as radical in the specific late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century British sense, as well as those who more generally advocated for societal improvements through reform. Senate House Library has organically developed into a hub for collections of radical voices of the last few centuries. Revealing this strand in the library collections not only sheds light on enormously influential but subsequently neglected figures, campaigns and organizations, but also on the University’s own institutional history, and potential futures. 

Tickets to view the Radical Voices exhibition are free and are available at the membership desk on the fourth floor of Senate House. Please see the library’s operating hours before planning your visit.

In addition to the exhibition, the library will be hosting a series of events, including film nights, conferences, concerts and an ephemera road show. Please see the website for more information about these events and to register to attend.

 

IWGB wins landmark tribunal case! — January 8, 2017

IWGB wins landmark tribunal case!

magsYou may have seen (in the Guardian, in the Evening Standard, in the Financial Times, on Radio 4 (from 21.25), on Radio 5 or on the BBC website) that the IWGB’s Maggie Dewhurst won her case against the cycle courier firm CitySprint.

The tribunal claim was for two days’ unpaid holiday pay, but the real argument was whether couriers should be classified as “independent contractors”, or “workers” in the eyes of UK and EU law.

This victory means that not just Maggie, but thousands across the courier industry, will be able to claim holiday pay and other basic rights they were hitherto denied.

Three more cases are going forward against other companies, as the IWGB is determined to transform this hitherto exploitative industry!

Read full details here!

Help our Deliveroo branch win recognition! — December 19, 2016

Help our Deliveroo branch win recognition!

deliveroofistsSince November, the IWGB has been attempting to gain recognition (a collective bargaining agreement) from Deliveroo in London. If we are successful, it will be the first collective bargaining agreement in the UK’s so called “gig economy” and will force Deliveroo to recognise their riders as workers. This will give them the right to the minimum wage, paid holidays, legal protection against discrimination and more.

Deliveroo has rejected the initial request, but the union remains determined to succeed and a tribunal case is currently pending. But it shouldn’t take a tribunal case to compel Deliveroo to do the right thing. They should recognise their drivers as “workers” and should recognise the union for the purposes of collective bargaining now.

Please help your fellow IWGB members and sign the LabourStart petition – http://www.labourstart.org/go/deliveroo

 

Anti-Aramark redundancies campaign continues — December 16, 2016

Anti-Aramark redundancies campaign continues

aramarkFar from winding down for the Christmas period, we are thinking of ramping up the anti-Aramark redundancies campaign with a bit more leafletting next week.

We got a great response last time and haven’t been able to do any since, so next Wednesday we’d like to hand out leaflets during the lunchtime rush again, and maybe during breakfast too. Please let us know (catherinemorrissey@iwgb.co.uk )if you can volunteer to do a festive good deed and help out for half an hour.

The latest on this is that the company conducted 5-minute ‘consultation’ meetings with affected staff, except those fortunate/wise enough to be IWGB members, who had decent support and thereby forced the managers into a more appropriate discussion of the options.

At these meetings it turned out that Aramark hasn’t conducted an equality impact assessment, and the managers in attendance – including the Director of Operations – had no idea why it might be a good idea to do so! Needless to say the indefatigable Danny Millum has now enlightened them…

Just a final note to finish: last year, Aramark’s annual profits were a mere $14.3 billion. Small change for most of us eh! So if anyone’s wondering whether they ‘need’ to make these people redundant … let them draw their own conclusions.

Please do remember to sign and circulate the petition too!

And you can read about other anti-Aramark campaigns here.

Fiesta de navidad! Sabado 10 de diciembre! — November 30, 2016

Fiesta de navidad! Sabado 10 de diciembre!

clipart-christmas-party-riay5rbilTe invitamos a celebrar la fiesta de navidad con tu sindicato IWGB el sabado 10 de diciembre desde las 6:30pm hasta el amanecer!

Habra servicio de comida, bebidas y fiesta!

Lugar: Instituto de Historical Research / Senate House – Malet Street WC1E 7HU.

Estacion de metro mas cercana: Russell Square.

Cualquier pregunta: 07922810798 (Henry)

Entrada gratuita para todos los miembros! Te esperamos!

IWGB Christmas Party – Sat 10 December! All welcome! —

IWGB Christmas Party – Sat 10 December! All welcome!

clipart-christmas-party-riay5rbilPlease make sure to come to our Christmas party on Saturday 10 December 2016, which we’re running jointly this year with our comrades in the United Voices of the World union.

The party will take place in the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet Street WC1E 7HU, and will start at 6.30pm.

Entrance is free for all members, and there will be food, drink and music from acclaimed SOAS DJ Luis Aramando!

Any questions at all call IWGB President and party maestro Henry Chango Lopez on 07922810798, or email catherinemorrissey@iwgb.co.uk.

See you there!

Branch meeting this Friday – please come and support your Aramark colleagues! — November 22, 2016

Branch meeting this Friday – please come and support your Aramark colleagues!

aramark

Our branch meetings this week will take place on Friday at 12.30 in the common room next to the cafe,and then on Saturday at 1.30 in the union office.

The main item on the agenda this month is the Aramark restructure – we will be handing out fliers and petitions at the meeting, so please make sure to come if you can and support your Aramark colleagues.

The full agenda is:

  1. Aramark
  2. ICE elections
  3. Christmas party and delegate event
  4. Kingdom tribunal over cleaners’ unpaid wages
  5. English clases
  6. LSHTM outsourcing
  7. Proposed creation of new Assistant Secretary post

Any suggestions or ideas please contact catherinemorrissey@iwgb.co.uk.

 

Aramark redundancies latest – IWGB submits consultation response! —

Aramark redundancies latest – IWGB submits consultation response!

aramarkUPDATE: If you would like to help Aramark staff facing redundancy this Christmas, please write a letter of objection to University Pro-Vice Chancellor of Operations Chris Cobb (Chris.Cobb@london.ac.uk)and Vivienne Shinner of Aramark (Shinner-Vivienne@aramark.co.uk) and sign our petition on the 38 Degrees website – http://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-redundancies-of-aramark-staff-at-the-university-of-london.

Suggested email – please adapt!

I am writing to express my concern about the planned redundancies among Aramark staff at the University.

I understand that the reason given for this is that hospitality revenues have been falling – and yet at the same time new zero-hours staff are being taken on, which suggests instead that this is an attempt to get rid of staff on full-time contracts.

In addition new catering outlets are due to open as part of Programme Beveridge early next year. It would seem sensible to defer this restructure until then, allowing staff to be relocated and avoiding redundancies.

I must say that in an increasingly faceless world of customer service I really value seeing my colleagues at the North Block café each morning.

Our branch secretary Catherine Morrissey has just submitted the union’s response to the planned restructure and job cuts by Aramark in Senate House.

See below for the full thing. Our branch meeting this week (12.30, Friday)  will be held in solidarity in the Common Room next to the cafe, and we plan to flier afterwards – so please come along and support our colleagues!

Aramark restructure November 2016 – Collective response from IWGB

Summary

Aramark’s regional Manager Vivienne Shinner announced in a staff meeting on 8 November 2016 that Aramark intends to ‘restructure’ a pool of ten people at the University of London site, resulting in the loss of three permanent jobs in catering at the University site.

This pool includes only staff on contracts with guaranteed hours. No zero-hours staff or their posts have been included in the pool.

Aramark’s stated justification for the intended restructure is falling revenues at the Senate House site due to a drop in catered hospitality bookings.

It should be noted that hospitality bookings are managed by the University’s Conference Office, which is staffed by direct employees of the University.

It has been claimed by Aramark managers in meetings with affected staff that the ‘pressure’ to make redundancies has come from the University itself. To date this assertion has not been confirmed by the Conference Office Business & Development Manager.

IWGB believes redundancy should be an absolute last resort and should not be considered until all other options have been tried and failed.

In this case IWGB does not believe Aramark and the University have done all they can to avoid redundancies. There are several grounds on which it can be shown that this restructure is precipitate and has not been properly managed, detailed below.

IWGB calls on the University of London and its subcontractor Aramark to halt these plans for one year, to allow time for the many possible solutions that would enable affected staff to continue their employment to be tested.

Further, IWGB believes that a failure to do so could result in any redundancies made under this process being challenged in court as unlawful and will give its full support to all staff wishing to take such a case forward.

We very much hope that this will be unnecessary and that suitable employment can be found for the affected staff, within the University site itself.

Detail

Grounds on which IWGB and affected staff believe this restructure is unnecessary and potentially illegal are as follows.

Suitable alternative employment on site or nearby is being withheld

  • The company is under a legal and moral duty to seek to offer suitable alternative employment rather than make staff redundant.
  • However, three people were employed by Aramark on zero hours contracts just weeks before three redundancies of permanent staff were announced.
  • Earlier in 2016 (August) 30 new staff were employed by Aramark in a new unit just a short walk from the Senate House site.
  • The new café scheduled to be built in the Senate House basement in 2017 will be run by Aramark. This will be a large café catering to hundreds of University staff. Experienced, reliable staff will be needed to manage and run this. It makes no sense to make three such staff redundant mere months before this.

The new structure disproportionately affects ethnic minority staff and may be discriminatory

  • There has been no equality impact assessment about how this proposed restructure, and the pool as it has been selected, impacts on ethnic minority staff.
  • Had there been, it would be obvious that ethnic minority groups are at risk of being disproportionately affected. Looking at the current structure and the proposed new structure, it is clear that current managers and administrators, all of whom are white British or Irish, can slot easily into the new roles. Ethnic minority staff are not so fortunate and at least three out of four of them are at high risk of losing their jobs.

The consultation has not been genuine or appropriate

  • The consultation period is too short – Aramark formally announced it in November and allowed the statutory minimum time for ‘consultation’. However, staff are aware that managers have been planning this restructure since August 2016. Employers are under a legal duty to consult for as long as possible. Aramark has failed to do so in this case.
  • A few weeks before this restructure was formally announced, affected staff were asked to come up with ideas for how to make cost savings and/or increase revenue on site. Many staff did so. However, at the first formal ‘consultation meeting’, which to date is the only further staff meeting held on the subject, they were not asked for or given opportunity to say what ideas they had.
  • IWGB believes this is because Aramark wishes to get permanent staff off its payroll and gradually replace them with zero-hours staff, while paying lip service to protecting jobs.

The redundancies are not genuine and are therefore illegal

  • Seven people cannot do the work of ten and maintain the same level of service. For example, a Deputy Manager cannot be an effective deputy, supervising work in the basement kitchens and doing high-level administration in the office, while at the same time taking on the full-time tasks of the busy ground-floor Café Supervisor. In the new structure this person will have to be supported by staff on zero-hours contracts whose roles are not detailed in the plans. Therefore the role of Café Supervisor is not genuinely redundant at all.
  • Replacing a permanent staff member with a zero-hours staff member in this way would constitute constructive dismissal and will be immediately challenged in court by IWGB.
  • Additionally, there is no rationale for including the Senate House café in this restructure and yet excluding the much quieter Institute of Advanced Legal Studies café. If it were a genuine case of wishing to make cost savings the pool should take into account where revenues are generated.
  • Affected staff are currently still being put under pressure to attend work even when ill, which further indicates that far from being redundant, their roles are in fact essential.
  • High levels of overtime are currently being performed by staff affected by this restructure. Aramark state that they have ‘the aim of avoiding, if possible, any compulsory redundancies’. If these levels of overtime continue while redundancies are made, it will be clear that they were avoidable, and that Aramark has failed to pursue its stated aim in this regard. Instead, overtime should be stopped and these hours should be shared among affected staff.

Claims about falling revenue have not been evidenced

  • There is no evidence of a need for this restructure. Figures have not been provided either by Aramark or the University to justify the claims of ‘falling revenues’ in terms of catering at Senate House.
  • The University has recently taken on the management of a new suite of conference venues, in the former students’ union on Malet Street (Student Central). Aramark were awarded the catering contract for its café and conference hospitality. It seems highly unlikely that with this new revenue stream, revenue can be said to have fallen.
  • The Conference and Events Sales Manager in the Conference Office has been on maternity leave for much of the past year. While she has been on leave she has not been replaced. It should be considered that the lack of this key staff member could be largely responsible for the perceived drop in hospitality revenue overall and that this should therefore be regarded as a temporary problem that does not justify three staff losing their jobs.
  • Even if it can be proven that hospitality revenues on average are falling, the Senate House café staff should not be included in the pool. The café remains busy and sales are actually increasing. IWGB regards the inclusion of the Café Supervisor in the redundancy pool as a deliberate attempt at constructive dismissal and will use past evidence of attempts to intimidate and discredit this long-serving staff member as supporting evidence of this should the case reach an employment tribunal.

There are several other easy ways to reduce costs or save jobs

Other ways to cut costs have not been appropriately trialled and considered. Staff have come up with several suggestions about how the alleged problem of falling revenues can be addressed, for example:

  • As mentioned above, it should be obvious that the lack of a dedicated and experienced sales manager will impact on overall revenues. The University and Aramark should wait for this staff member to return from leave and reprise the role for several months before assessing whether the drop in revenue was a temporary or permanent trend.
  • Aramark management have only recently arranged for access to the dry food store to be restricted. The current Café Supervisor has been asking for six years for this to be done due to theft of stock from the previously open area. This created waste and decreased profits. Time should be taken to see the effect of managing this appropriately.
  • Prices have just gone up in the café. Again, the University and its subcontractor Aramark should allow a few months to see what impact this has on revenues.
  • Overtime is extensively used by senior staff (the same staff who are likely to slot into the new roles in the proposed new structure). This will be having a disproportionately negative impact on the apparent profitability of catering at Senate House. Overtime should be stopped immediately to see what effect this would have on profits. Again, such a change should be monitored for several months.
  • As mentioned above, as part of its flagship ‘Programme Beveridge’ the University of London is creating a large new staff café in the basement of Senate House. It has already been confirmed that this café will be managed and staffed by Aramark. Building work is already ongoing and is scheduled to be complete in April 2017. The three staff who do not fit into the proposed new structure should be retained in their roles until this café is opened, at which point they can be offered roles there.

IWGB believes that the above is overwhelming evidence that there is no need for any redundancies among Aramark staff at the University of London site.

IWGB calls on Aramark to halt these proposed redundancies immediately.

IWGB calls on the University of London to step in publicly, to prevent its collusion in the discriminatory practices against ethnic minority staff on its site and against the attempted constructive dismissal of a longstanding member of staff.

UoL cafe and hospitality staff face redundancy — November 16, 2016

UoL cafe and hospitality staff face redundancy

index.jpgUPDATE: If you would like to help Aramark staff facing redundancy this Christmas, please write a letter of objection to University Pro-Vice Chancellor of Operations Chris Cobb (Chris.Cobb@london.ac.uk)and Vivienne Shinner of Aramark (Shinner-Vivienne@aramark.co.uk) and sign our petition on the 38 Degrees website – https://you.38degrees.org.uk/p/stop-aramark-redundancies-UoL.

Suggested email – please adapt!

I am writing to express my concern about the planned redundancies among Aramark staff at the University.

I understand that the reason given for this is that hospitality revenues have been falling – and yet at the same time new zero-hours staff are being taken on, which suggests instead that this is an attempt to get rid of staff on full-time contracts.

In addition new catering outlets are due to open as part of Programme Beveridge early next year. It would seem sensible to defer this restructure until then, allowing staff to be relocated and avoiding redundancies.

I must say that in an increasingly faceless world of customer service I really value seeing my colleagues at the North Block café each morning.

Aramark, the company to which the University of London outsources its catering, has announced plans for a restructure which will lead to at least three staff being made redundant.

Staff have been told that this has come about at the request of the Conference Office due to falling conference revenues and a desire to cut costs.

However, no details have yet been provided, and many fear that Aramark are using this as an opportunity to shed the few remaining staff on permanent contracts, to be replaced by workers on the zero-hour contracts which are the norm for this notoriously cost-cutting company.

The IWGB has written to Aramark and to the Conference Office, and is determined to fight on behalf of members, several of whom have been at the University for many years and who are justifiably extremely concerned at the prospect of imminent redundancy.

These redundancies are particularly unnecessary given that the University and Aramark will be opening a new cafe as part Programme Beveridge next spring / summer.

As part of our campaign to stop these cuts, we are calling on all staff to contact Conference Office head Charlie Vernon (charlie.vernon@london.ac.uk) and ask him to reconsider his decision and find an alternative that avoids redundancies.

University of London to pay new London Living Wage rate of £9.75 an hour — November 10, 2016

University of London to pay new London Living Wage rate of £9.75 an hour

london-living-wage-nov-2016
Sadiq Khan announces the new London Living Wage

The IWGB has had confirmation from the University of London that all staff, in-house and contracted, will receive at least the new London Living Wage of £9.75 an hour.

The increase will be effective from 1 November, and marks a rise of 35p per hour from the previous £9.40 rate – an increase of about 3.7%.

The IWGB is pressing to have this increase also applied to supervisory staff, to ensure that differentials are maintained.

We are determined to continue to fight for improvements in the terms and conditions for the most vulnerable staff at the University – please do get in touch with catherine.morrissey@iwgb.co.uk if you are not being paid the LLW, or if you have any other questions.

We will also be pressurising other nearby Universities to ensure they follow suit.

 

IWGB on Radio 4 last week! — November 3, 2016

IWGB on Radio 4 last week!

indexIWGB General Secretary and University of London branch member Jason Moyer-Lee was on the Today programme last Saturday talking about the Uber ruling.

It’s great publicity for the union, and also for our own IWGB Couriers court case, which is extremely similar to the Uber one.

Have a listen from 1 hour 13 minutes in. There’s a funny bit where the expert from the Brighton thinktank talks about the need for a ‘third category’ of worker, and Jason points out that this category already exists, and that’s exactly what the court case is about!

Radio 4 interview with Jason Moyer-Lee after Uber decision.

Solidarity with the LSE cleaners — March 15, 2017