University of London’s outsourced workers need you — April 20, 2018

University of London’s outsourced workers need you

For two days next week – 25 and 26 April – more than 100 cleaners, porters, security officers, receptionists, gardeners, post room and audio-visual staff at the University of London (UoL) will be striking for fairness and equality. And they need your support on the picket line outside Senate House.

This is expected to be the biggest ever strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history.  Continue reading

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UCU members vote to accept employers’ latest pensions offer — April 15, 2018

UCU members vote to accept employers’ latest pensions offer

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have voted to accept Universities UK’s (UUK) offer, which establishes a joint expert panel to evaluate the pensions provided by the University Superannuation Scheme (USS).

This decision puts all currently planned strike action – including that scheduled for next week – on hold. As the IWGB position was to support national UCU industrial action, this means its members are now standing down as well.

Nearly two thirds of eligible UCU members (33,973) took part in the consultation, with 64 per cent (21,683) voting to accept the offer from Universities UK, and 12,230 voting to reject it.

Writing to members following the vote, UCU’s general secretary, Sally Hunt said that, “In line with the decision of members the union will suspend its immediate industrial action plans but keep our legal strike mandate live until the agreement between UCU and UUK is noted by USS.

“For the avoidance of doubt, all currently planned industrial action – including that scheduled for next week – is suspended and members should work normally.”

Strike action that began in February, centred on UUK’s plans to overhaul the USS, which has 400,000 members at 67 universities and colleges and 300 specialist institutions such as the Royal Society and Cancer Research UK. The first UUK offer to end the strike in March was unanimously rejected by UCU.

Industrial action took place at 65 universities across the UK, with a loss of some 14 days of teaching. There were fears that further action would disrupt final examinations and prevent students on some courses from graduating.

“Now we have agreement to move forward jointly, looking again at the USS valuation alongside a commitment from the employers to a guaranteed, defined benefit scheme,’ explains Sally Hunt.

“We hope this important agreement will hearten workers across the UK fighting to defend their pension rights and was won through the amazing strike action of UCU members.”

 

 

IWGB to apply for judicial review in groundbreaking outsourced workers’ rights case — April 11, 2018

IWGB to apply for judicial review in groundbreaking outsourced workers’ rights case

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is challenging the decision by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) to not hear an application for trade union recognition that would broaden the rights of outsourced workers and introduce the concept of a “joint-employer” to the UK.

  • IWGB is arguing that denying outsourced workers the right to collectively bargain with their de-facto employer, the University of London, is a breach of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • The CAC refused to hear the application made by the IWGB in November
  • If the challenge is successful, the High Court will force the CAC to hear the case

The claim for judicial review has been filed in the High Court and, if successful, would force the CAC to consider the union’s application.

In November, the IWGB brought a case to the CAC to require the University of London to recognise the union for the purposes of collective bargaining on behalf of some of its outsourced workers.

The law to date has been interpreted as only allowing workers to collectively bargain with their direct employer, in this case facilities management company Cordant Security. But, if successful, the test case would open the doors for workers throughout the UK to collectively bargain with their de-facto employer as well as their direct employer, introducing the concept of a joint-employer to UK law.

The IWGB is arguing that denying the outsourced workers the right to collectively bargain with the university, which is their de-facto employer, is a breach of article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The proposed collective bargaining unit would include security officers, porters and post room workers.

This case is trying to push the boundaries of employment law and make sure domestic law is keeping up with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights. Due to its groundbreaking nature, the IWGB expected that the matter would ultimately be decided by the appellate courts.

The case backed by The Good Law Project.

IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Low paid outsourced workers across the country routinely have their pay and terms and conditions decided by their de-facto employers, whose premises they clean or maintain. In this set-up the contractors are often little more than glorified middle men. For the collective bargaining rights of these low paid workers to mean anything, they must be able to negotiate with the actual decision maker.”

Good law Project founder Jolyon Maugham QC said “There are many ways bad employers dodge the cost of workers’ rights and outsourcing can be one of them. The treatment of workers with modest bargaining power and little influence, can be hidden from view, but it shouldn’t be hidden from the law through the use of faceless outsourcing companies. I’m proud to be supporting this case that will ensure that domestic law protects the human rights of some of the most vulnerable workers in the UK.”

Outsourced workers at the University of London have been campaigning since September to be made direct employees of the university and plan to stage the biggest ever outsourced workers strike in the history of UK higher education on 25 and 26 April.

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact Emiliano Mellino, IWGB press officer. Email: press@iwgb.co.uk

 

USS pensions update — April 6, 2018

USS pensions update

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) are currently voting on the latest proposals put forward by Universities UK (UUK) to end the nationwide industrial action against cuts to university staff pension benefits.

Ahead of the 13 April voting deadline, UCU has called an emergency general meeting for members wishing to discuss the e-ballot and the proposals. This will take place in Senate House, 10 April, room G4, 12–1pm. In the meantime, see here for a range of useful analysis of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions dispute written by academics in response to UUK’s 23 March proposal.

The vote

If members say YES to the proposal, UCU will suspend its immediate plans for industrial action, but keep the legal strike mandate live until the proposal is formally noted at the board of the USS.

If there is a NO vote, the next strike action scheduled for 23–27 April, which coincides with IWGB’s outsourced worker strikes on 25 and 26 April, will go ahead.

A further 14 days of industrial action is on the cards for May and June in almost all institutions, and there are plans for a fresh ballot of UCU members to escalate the action further in the autumn. Employers will be asked to improve their proposal so that it contains a ‘no detriment’ clause.

An overwhelming show of hands at the recent IWGB branch meeting confirmed its members’ commitment to continue their support for any UCU action should the current UUK offer be rejected.

 

 

 

AGM (Asamblea General Anual) – sábado 28 de abril del 2018 – abierta a todos los miembros! — March 30, 2018

AGM (Asamblea General Anual) – sábado 28 de abril del 2018 – abierta a todos los miembros!

IALSLa rama de la Universidad de Londres de IWGB celebrará su asamblea general anual el sábado 28 de abril a las 2:00 de la tarde en el Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. ¡Habrá comida y bebida!

Ha sido un año increíble, con la que pronto será la victoriosa campaña In-house en Senate House, las huelgas masivas por las pensiones y ¡mucho mucho más!

Todos vosotros sabéis que nuestros sindicato es pequeño y depende del trabajo duro y la participación de sus miembros, así que es muy importante que acudáis para que:

  • sepáis todo lo que la rama ha estado hacienda durante el último año
  • elijáis a los oficiales para el próximo año
  • selecciones a los delegados para la reunión general anual nacional
  • conozcáis a otros miembros de otros sitios de trabajo diferente
  • expreséis vuestras opiniones, hagáis preguntas, en general conozcáis como funciona el sindicato

Elecciones

Pincha aquí para ver la lista de los oficiales actuales– todos estos puestos estarán abiertos a una elección en la reunión general anual y cualquier miembro se puede presentar.

Todo lo que tienes que hacer es presentarte ese mismo día. Si hay más de un candidato/a, pediremos que hagáis un pequeño discurso a ambos/as y luego se hará una votación a mano alzada. Si hay más de un candidato/a para secretario/a de la rama o presidente/a, tenemos que tener una votación postal, ya que son posiciones nacionales.

Si tienes cualquier pregunta o estás interesado/a en presentante, no dudes en contactar con Danny (dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk)  o Rebecca (rebeccadooley@iwgb.org.uk).

Direcciones

Las estaciones de metro más cercanas son Russell Square con la Piccadilly line, Holborn con la Central line y Euston con la Northern y Victoria line.

Buses: 59, 168, 68, 188, 91

Pincha aquí para ver en mapa

AGM – Saturday 28 April 2018 – all members welcome! — March 29, 2018

AGM – Saturday 28 April 2018 – all members welcome!

IALSThe University of London branch of the IWGB will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Saturday 28 April at 2pm in the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. Food and drink will be provided!

It’s been an unbelievable year, with the (soon to be) victorious in-house campaign at Senate House, the massive pensions strike and much much more!

All of you know our union is a small one which relies on the hard work and participation of members – so it’s really important to attend, so you can:

  • find out everything the branch has been doing for the last year
  • elect officers for the next year
  • select delegates for the national AGM
  • meet other members from different workplaces
  • give feedback, ask questions, generally find out how the union works

Elections

See here for a list of current officers – all these posts will be open for election at the AGM, and any member can stand.

All you need to do is to put yourself forward on the day. If there’s more than one candidate, we’ll ask for a short statement from both and then have a show of hands. If there’s more than one candidate for branch secretary or chair, we need to have a postal ballot, as they are national positions.

If you’ve got any questions or are interested in applying, feel free to drop Danny (dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk) or Rebecca (rebeccadooley@iwgb.org.uk) a line.

Directions

Nearest stations on the London Underground are Russell Square on Piccadilly line, Holborn on Central line and Euston on the Northern and Victoria line.

Buses: 59, 168, 68, 188, 91

See here for a map.

USS pensions update: new proposal sent to UCU members — March 27, 2018
Pensions meeting update and breaking news — March 22, 2018

Pensions meeting update and breaking news

The 22 March all-staff meeting held by the University and College Union (UCU) at Senate House attracted nearly 40 people keen to receive an update on the current UK-wide universities pensions dispute.

It was led by Tim Hall, UCU’s Senate House branch chair, who provided a summary of events to date including a day-by-day picket report. He also recognised the ongoing support from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), and confirmed there will be a further 14 days of strike action starting in late May or early June. Continue reading

Pensions – what happens next? — March 18, 2018

Pensions – what happens next?

demob
Some IWGB members a little demob happy on the last day…

This is just a quick summary of the position following the end of the first wave of strikes.

What did the strikes achieve?

It’s important to remember that before the strike action began, we were told that not only were these massive cuts to our pensions inevitable, but that no further negotiations would take place. Defined benefit was dead.

That position has been completely overturned – the employers (via Universities UK) have been forced to return to talks, and to make an offer which retained a defined benefit component.

Furthermore, rather than turning against staff, students have been totally supportive, taking part in demos, pickets, marches and occupations which have hugely helpful in the the campaign.

dad
Friday was also bring your dad to the picket day…

Role of IWGB members

Your contribution at Senate House has been absolutely crucial – many IWGB members refused to cross the picket line for 14 days and instead stood along their UCU colleagues. Many more took action on some of these days. This included members who are not in USS, acting in solidarity with their colleagues and in recognition that SAUL will be next! Everyone has done what they can – it’s been a really heartwarming experience to be part of the strike and we want to thank everyone who has taken part.

It’s also been a pleasure to support the revitalised Senate House UCU branch – check out their blog here for some really insightful write-ups.

Why was the offer rejected?

This offer would still have left us far worse off – contributions would have risen, the protection against inflation would have been reduced, accruals would be 1/85 rather than 1/75, the ceiling for DB would have fallen to £42K and the direction of travel would have been towards getting rid of DB next time around.

The fact that the deal also seemed to commit staff to rescheduling lectures didn’t go down well either…

However, in addition to this during the strikes something important had happened – staff had started researching the overall pension position, and it had become clear that it was not a question of negotiating over how to plug the deficit, but rather demonstrating that the very idea of a deficit was down to the extremely flawed November 2017 valuation of USS.

It was therefore pointless to start from these false premises – instead, we needed to return to the September 2017 valuation, which showed the scheme to be perfectly healthy, and would save both employers and employees money!

The strike has also thrown up a whole host of questions as too how our universities are run, the excessive role of marketisation, the absurd administrative burdens placed on frontline staff by unaccountable senior management and a general feeling that an entire change of ethos is required.

What will happen next?

UCU have called for 14 more days of strike action in April and May, to be chosen at a local level. As soon as we have those dates we will let you know more – again, your participation will be crucial!

In the meantime, talks between UCU and UUK are likely to resume, and in addition discussions are going on over a new ‘independent’ valuation of USS – we’ll try and keep you posted!

At the same time various actions short of a strike are being carried out, including the resignation of external examiners – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-2elwhGtmSZJI-WA2iIlZr_dmodeiiNMV4pDXrbKhxw/edit

Oh – and thanks to pressure from Senate House UCU strike deductions will now be made over 4 months! If you have any questions about this OR have any issues with HR or management please email dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk!

Further reading

http://www.notesfrombelow.org/article/after-first-wave-strikes-how-can-we-win

https://ucu.london.ac.uk/2018/03/16/a-note-of-thanks/

https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2018/3/15/this-isnt-just-about-pensions-anymore-theres-a-revolution-afoot

https://narrativeofastrike.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/narrative-of-a-strike

Twitter hashtags: #ussstrike #ussstrikes #ucustrike #NoCapitulation

 

Broken promises over outsourcing — March 15, 2018

Broken promises over outsourcing

Letter from IWGB branch secretary Danny Millum, to Ghazwa Alwani-Starr, director of property and facilities management at the University of London

 

Dear Ghaz,

I note with regret that the university has announced the postponement of the decision on bringing its outsourced workers in-house until May.

This will be extremely frustrating for the hundreds of workers who not only have to endure the current discriminatory two-tier employment situation, but were promised a decision in March.

Furthermore, it is likely to add to the already massive reputational damage the university has suffered as a consequence of failing to resolve this issue – particularly embarrassing in a year when the university is celebrating 150 years of women in higher education (#LeadingWomen) and yet continues to treat its predominantly female and Latino cleaning workforce so poorly (#HypocrisyandDiscrimination).

As I am sure you have seen, the university now faces the biggest outsourced worker strike in HE (higher education) history, which is scheduled for 25 and 26 April, and which is already attracting national press attention (Outsourced University of London workers to strike over pay and conditions).

The in-house campaign, led by the workers themselves, continues to have three simple and fair demands:

  1. End outsourcing and bring in-house all outsourced workers on the same terms and conditions as other directly employed staff immediately

  2. End zero-hours contracts

  3. Implement pay rises that it has promised but failed to deliver

The campaign will continue to escalate until these demands are met.

Best wishes,

Danny

Danny Millum

Branch Secretary

University of London IWGB

_____________________________________________________________

Media stories on 25-26 April strike action

University cleaners announce biggest ever outsourced workers strike in UK higher education —

University cleaners announce biggest ever outsourced workers strike in UK higher education

BREAKING NEWS: STRIKE FUND CROWDPAC NOW OPEN! PLEASE DONATE HERE!

  • More than 100 cleaners, porters, receptionists and other outsourced workers of the University of London will strike on 25 and 26 April
  • Workers demand an end to outsourcing, an end to zero-hours and pay rises
  • Campaign has been supported by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and others

University of London workers organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) are to hold the biggest-ever strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history. Continue reading

Pensions strike update: offer rejected AND strike pay deductions to be spread over four months — March 14, 2018

Pensions strike update: offer rejected AND strike pay deductions to be spread over four months

First, the deal offered by employers in an attempt to end the dispute, which is in its third week, has been rejected by the University and College Union’s higher education committee. This is a good thing. The offer, a three-year interim arrangement which would require higher contributions from members and employers during this period, was unsatisfactory for many reasons, AND we can definitely do better.

Second, the human resources (HR) team has stated that strike deductions will be spread over four months. This will obviously make things easier for those who have taken action so far. Full details of this decision by HR are not available as yet, but will be passed on soon as they are.

So the strike action is still on! See you on the picket tomorrow!

BREAKING NEWS! Deal proposed over pensions! — March 12, 2018

BREAKING NEWS! Deal proposed over pensions!

Headline terms of deal agreed at ACAS

  • DB remain place for next 3 years
  • Alternative scheme options to be considered for after this 3 yr period
  • Higher contributions from both employers and employees
  • Salary threshold reduced to £42K

https://www.ucu.org.uk/media/9300/Agreement-reached-between-UCU-and-UUK-under-the-auspices-of-ACAS/pdf/UCU_UUK_agreement_at_ACAS_12_March_Final.pdf

The IWGB believes that

1. this should be seen as a massive victory and vindication of prolonged industrial action 2. this offer still entails an unnecessary pay cut & erodes DB going forward.

NEVER ACCEPT THE FIRST OFFER! THEY WILL GO HIGHER! REJECT THE DEAL!

 

Notice to staff in advance of the March ICE meeting — March 11, 2018

Notice to staff in advance of the March ICE meeting

The next meeting of the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) forum will be on 20 March 2018, and as your representatives we want to let you know what’s on the agenda and to ask if there’s anything else that you would like raising.

You can find the minutes of the last meeting plus the provisional agenda here (https://iwgb-universityoflondon.org/ice-meeting-minutes-and-agendas/) and all ICE updates here (https://iwgb-universityoflondon.org/category/ice/).

The main points that we will be discussing are:

Please let us (danny.millum@sas.ac.uk) know by Wednesday 14 March (apologies for the short notice, but the strikes have been pretty disruptive in terms of communications!) if there’s anything you’d like adding – or just feel free to get in touch!

Strike update as we go into the final week —

Strike update as we go into the final week

solidarity
Solidarity from Toronto!

Just a quick update as we move into week 4 of the strikes!

  1. Talks between UCU and UUK will resume on Monday – UCU say:
    ‘There has been constructive engagement and progress on the challenging issues in the dispute. Talks will continue on Monday, although both sides will be working over the weekend. For the avoidance of doubt, the strikes remain on.’
  2. 32 universities have now come out in support of maintaining the defined benefit scheme / accepting a higher level of risk, including Oxford and Cambridge.
  3. There’s a great letter from the Master of Churchill College here – https://www.chu.cam.ac.uk/news/2018/mar/9/letter-master-athene-donald-alistair-jarvis-uuk/
  4. More than 10,000 people have signed the petitionto make UUK subject to the Freedom of Information Act (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/214119)
  5. Students have massively supported the strike, and been in occupation in universities across the country, including Bath, Exeter, Leicester and UCL.
  6. We’ve seen worldwide solidarity from other unions (including Toronto, pictured)

IN SHORT – WE ARE WINNING! KEEP UP THE PRESSURE, COME TO THE PICKET AND HELP MAKE HISTORY AND SAVE OUR PENSIONS

USS pension dispute: student letter in support of staff on strike — March 8, 2018

USS pension dispute: student letter in support of staff on strike

See below for a letter of support over pensions from our SAS students!

Dear Professor Sir Adrian

We are students in the School of Advanced Study writing to you with regard to the ongoing USS pension dispute.

We are fully in support of all staff taking action in response to planned changes to their pensions, which will close the defined benefit element of the scheme and lead to estimated losses of up to £10k a year in retirement income.

We believe that these changes are based on an inaccurate valuation of the scheme and are therefore unnecessary.

We do not wish to be taught in an environment where staff terms and conditions are relentlessly worsened, and in addition recognise that for many of us these are also our own future terms and conditions.

We therefore call on you to make a clear statement of support for your staff, and a commitment from the University of London that it will add its voice to those calling for the USS pension scheme to be retained in its current form.

Yours sincerely,

Charlotte Berry, IHR

Mike Brownlee, IHR

Kathleen McIlvenna, IHR

Roger Woods, IHR

Alexander Curry, ILAS

Jose Luis Guevara Salamanca, ILAS

Lilija Alijeva, ICwS

Daniela Zanini, IMLR

Matt Kinsella, HRC

Hari Mountford, IMLR

Voula Zarra, IES

Martina Mastandrea, IES

Stephanie Homer, IMLR

Francielle Carpenedo, IMLR

Ala Al-Mahaidi, ICwS

Cheryl Bellisario, ICwS

Karen E. McCallum, ICwS

Lara Haladjian, ICwS

Isobel Archer, ICwS

Cassandra Soderstrom, ICwS

Sonya Rahaman, ICwS

Marilia Arantes, ILAS

Mayaan Niezna, IALS

Tatiana Suarez, ILAS

Dean Thompson, ICwS

Uninvited guests interrupt vice-chancellor’s graduation dinner —
Pension strike latest – victory is close as divisions among employers widen — March 7, 2018

Pension strike latest – victory is close as divisions among employers widen

oxford
Oxford academics voting 442 to 2 against pension changes. Who were the two!!?

The pension strike is nearing the end of its 3rd week – the last day is tomorrow (Thursday 8 March), with the whole of next week designated for strike action.

On a national level it has been a massive success – every day more Vice-Chancellors have come out to call for a resolution to the strike which meets staff demands, and talks are continuing at ACAS with an offer from the employers expected later today. Here’s a report from the BBC on how Oxford have just changed their position – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-43316336

All we need to do is keep up the pressure! Many of us have been on strike the whole time, many more have taken some part in the action.

Now more than ever we need your help – remember we are fighting for everyone’s pensions. To ensure the strike stays strong enough to get a firm commitment to keep defined benefit pensions we need others to share the burden.

If you have not yet been on strike please join us – tomorrow is the national Women’s Strike and it would be great if we could have a strong presence on the picket line before the rally in Russell Square at 1pm.

See below for some tips from UCU as to what you can do to support the strike in other ways.

  1.   Please send an email to our senior leaders to express your concern, and that it is in the University of London’s best interest to do whatever they can to help resolve this issue as quickly as possible. Please remind them that this organisation depends on all our good will, and tell them that you, as a colleague, are appalled that these changes to our pension are even being considered.

    2.    Please consider wearing displays of support like the popular ‘There Is No USS Deficit’ badge. It would be hugely helpful to show that you do not believe the narrative that these cuts are necessary – the Financial Times and many other established commentators have seriously questioned the USS valuation they are based on, and it is rapidly losing any kind of credibility.

    3. Use the super simple tool provided by UCU to contact your MP and ask them to help protect our pensions: https://www.ucu.org.uk/USS-emailyourMP– It takes less than a minute!

    4.    Please be aware that the USS employee consultation phase begins on 19th March. All USS pension holders should voice concern and use this to put as much pressure on USS in this way, too, not to go ahead with reforms as currently planned.

    5.    Last but not least: as stated before it is never too late to start striking yourself. We have already been tremendously successful – the renewed talks between UUK and UCU this week would not have taken place without the strikes. It is now more important than ever to keep up the pressure and realise the enormous power we, the 190,000 pension holders, have collectively. And remember: if we win this dispute, we will all benefit!

Update re health and safety during pensions strike — March 5, 2018

Update re health and safety during pensions strike

The IWGB can confirm that having chased our original email re health and safety during the pension strikes (iwgb-universityoflondon.org/2018/02/25/health-and-safety-during-the-current-industrial-action/) we have received a reply from the University which solely states that our ‘points have been noted’.

This can presumably be interpreted as meaning that no measures have been taken to ensure that the University is safe, despite the absence through industrial action of fire marshals etc.

Please bear this in mind when working in the building or inviting visitors…

 

 

Message from UoL VC re pensions —

Message from UoL VC re pensions

This is from the intranet today – obviously ANY statement is welcome, but this does kind of define ‘sitting on the fence’….

“You will all be aware of the current strike action by the members of the University and College Union (UCU) in relation to proposed changes to the USS pension scheme.

I was pleased to learn that further talks have been agreed between UCU and Universities UK on the future of the scheme following a meeting last week. I welcome this development as a positive step towards reaching a mutually agreeable settlement and look forward to the outcome of fresh discussions beginning today.”

Pension strikes – what’s been happening and what happens next – message from the IWGB — March 2, 2018

Pension strikes – what’s been happening and what happens next – message from the IWGB

Hi all,

I am just writing to give a quick update on the pension strikes.

The story so far…

 As you are hopefully aware, big changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions were announced at the end of January, which would mean an end to the defined benefit scheme and a probable loss of at least 40 per cent in the value of pensions going forward. It is a near certainty that SAUL would have been next. Continue reading

Acas to arbitrate talks as pension dispute moves into second phase —
Health and Safety during the current industrial action — February 25, 2018

Health and Safety during the current industrial action

See below for a letter from our branch secretary to Chris Cobb raising concerns over health and safety during the strikes:

Dear Chris

I am writing to ask that the University confirm that during UCUs strike action that the campus remain safe for staff and students to remain working on?

Given the number of staff taking strike action or refusing to cross picket lines, are all necessary health and safety requirements (both outlined in the University’s own policy and that of the relevant legislation) being met? Continue reading

Latest – Universities UK agree to talks, but strike continues —

Latest – Universities UK agree to talks, but strike continues

strikeday2

 

Another well-supported if extremely cold day of strike action on Friday culminated in the news that talks would resume with Universities UK next Tuesday, as more VCs broke ranks to call for a negotiated solution (the list was 18 at the last count, including Cambridge!).

However, as UUK are still ludicrously claiming that the decision to close the DC scheme cannot be part of negotiations, the strikes will continue!

It is clear that the action is working – and it’s more important than ever that we step it up now that the momentum is and the employers are wavering! We are almost there – please join us in supporting the picket at the front of Senate House on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday next week and help seal a historic victory and save our pensions!

Any questions – give Danny a shout on 07783719479.

What the papers say about lecturers’ strike action over pension changes —

What the papers say about lecturers’ strike action over pension changes

strikebannerTens of thousands of lecturers and other staff braved freezing temperatures to take part in the first day of protests against changes to their pensions. And, to show solidarity, many IWGB members turned out to support the picket line at Senate House.

They stood alongside the students who were supporting their teachers while journalists captured, in images and words, the biggest industrial action even seen in UK universities. Stories featured in many local, national and international media outlets – too numerous to list.

Here are some from The Guardian: University lecturers begin strike action over pensions; The Guardian view on the lecturers’ strike: a deficit in thinking; The solution to university pensions? Better fund managers; ‘The whole university system is broken’: your best comments today; I’m striking with university colleagues as our pensions are being destroyed. Most of the Guardian’s coverage of the strike can be found on its Higher Education page. Continue reading

Great turnout and support for day one of the pensions strike — February 22, 2018

Great turnout and support for day one of the pensions strike

There was a unprecedented turnout for an HE strike at Senate House today, as IWGB members refused to cross picket lines and demonstrated in support of UCU colleagues as part of the national strike against the planned cuts to USS pensions.

Great to see solidarity among the unions and great to see SAUL members refusing to cross the picket line in support of their colleagues. This meant ICS, IHR, Warburg and Senate House libraries all affected or closed!

Also interesting to note the heavy handed attempts by UoL management to try and dissuade staff from participating in the action – a clear sign that the level of opposition to these changes has extremely worried them. Hopefully they will realise the next logical step is to publicly come out against the changes!

The strike continues tomorrow – please join us at the front of Senate House from 8am or call Danny on 07783719479 if you get lost or have questions!

 

Hands off university pensions — February 17, 2018

Hands off university pensions

In response to plans for massive cuts to their pensions, university workers are going on strike for an unprecedented 14 days!

These cuts will fundamentally change the nature of higher education pensions, and are just part of the ongoing process of marketisation negatively impacting students and staff alike.

The strike starts on Thursday 22 February (8am–12noon), and we need to maximise support on the picket line for staff who are having to sacrifice a big proportion of their wages in order to fight for their pensions.

We especially need support at the central University of London at Senate House, where we have very few students of our own. IWGB will be supporting the UCU (University and College Union) strike and there will be drums, vuvuzelas, music and more to drive home the message: ‘Hands off our pensions’.

Please join the picket line and demonstration on day one from 8am. See you there!

University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

Show map

¡Hola! Talk really does come cheap — February 15, 2018

¡Hola! Talk really does come cheap

Hands up all those are looking forward to a well-earned break in the Spanish sunshine this year. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to speak like a native or at least try? Well, thanks to free Spanish lessons IWGB members will be able to do just that.

Sessions take place every Tuesday, 12.30–1.30pm, in the lower mezzanine room, Senate House. All levels welcome. Contact dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk for details

Victory for our members at Heythrop College —

Victory for our members at Heythrop College

After months of uncertainty and pressure from the IWGB the management of Heythrop College and Kingdom, the outsourcing company contracted out by the college to provide cleaning services, has finally confirmed that workers will be paid the London living wage of £10.20 per hour.

The pay increase, which is effective immediately, will be backdated to November 2017. This means the increase will be in the next pay period as detailed in this email sent to IWGB by Heythrop’s director of finance and estates:

Dear Henry,

Please be assured that Kingdom have been instructed to implement the London Living Wage for all their employees working on the College site and to backdate this increase to November 2017.  I have requested that this change be implemented in time for their next pay period.

Regards

Martin Grundy
Director of Finance and Estates
Heythrop College

 

Hasta la Victoria!

 

 

USS Pensions – packed out all-staff meeting AND strike details — February 14, 2018

USS Pensions – packed out all-staff meeting AND strike details

At a packed out all-staff meeting on pensions a UCU national negotiator outlined the seriousness of the planned changes to USS, the fact that they were completely unnecessary, and the need for strike actionto bring the employers back to the table.

Lots of questions came up after the meeting from non-UCU members, and so hereare some very brief FAQS about the strike!

Why is everyone talking about pensions?

Our pensions are about to be drastically cut – USS first, with SAUL to follow.

 That sounds bad. But what can I do about it?

Join the national strike across 61 universities starting on Thursday 22 February.

 I’m not in a union so I can’t strike, right?

Not true. Everyone can take part – you do not have to be in any union.

 Won’t I get in trouble if I strike?

It is illegal to penalise anyone for refusing to cross a picket line. The University has also assured staff there will be no negative consequences.

 But I can’t afford it right now.

The planned changes could cost us £200,000 from our pensions – we need to take a short term hit to avoid a massive long term loss.

 

OK – I can strike! How do I do it?

Just turn up at the front of Senate House at 8am on Thursday 22 February – the longer the picket line, the shorter the strike!

Press coverage of our Royal College of Music cleaners —

Press coverage of our Royal College of Music cleaners

This article originally appeared in Red Pepper (https://www.redpepper.org.uk/there-is-something-dirty-about-the-way-we-clean/)

Every evening at 11pm, Wilson Ayala Romero leaves the 12sqm room he shares with his cousin in Brixton to go clean the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London’s richest borough, Kensington and Chelsea.

Like many other Latin American immigrants in London, Wilson, 55, from Ecuador, works several cleaning jobs. As is common for most cleaners, he isn’t employed directly by the place where he works seven days a week, six hours each day, striving to make sure that every surface looks pristine. Instead, he’s employed by Tenon FM, a facilities management company contracted out by RCM. Just after Christmas, the company gave the workers an ultimatum. Accept a drastic cut in your hours, or be out of a job.

Outsourcing has been in the headlines recently due to the collapse of government contractor Carillion and the growing fears that other companies the public sector depends on could follow suit. But very little has been said of the way these outsourcing contracts impact on workers. Through outsourcing, workers such as cleaners, receptionists or security officers, tend to be employed on far worse terms and conditions than direct employees. This means worse pensions, holiday pay, sick pay and parental leave than their colleagues. In many cases, the cleaners are working class migrant workers, caught at the crux of discrimination, low pay and precarity. “They think that by hiring immigrants they can get away with exploiting us and paying us whatever they want, but thanks to the union we have managed massive victories, like the London Living Wage,” Wilson says.

Employers like Royal College of Music or the University of London a few miles down the road – where the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is campaigning to end outsourcing – treat workers with a casual disregard, revealing the true cruelty and discriminatory nature of this system. They feel they can wipe their hands of these workers as they do not employ them directly – and they are quite explicit in saying that.

When the University of London was asked by journalists last week about a strike and protest called by the IWGB over pay and outsourcing, a spokesperson said that “It would not be appropriate for the University to comment on the employment arrangements of another organisation.”

The IWGB’s legal department has found that these workers are more likely to suffer from bullying, discrimination and from unlawful deduction of wages than their colleagues directly employed by these universities. Despite this, the outsourcing institutions rarely, if ever, intervene in these issues.

But clearly, the outsourcers have more sway than they claim – after all, they control the purse strings. Just over a year ago, the IWGB was forced to take Kingdom, the former cleaning contractor for RCM, the Royal College of Arts and Heythrop College, to tribunal over thousands of pounds in unpaid wages. A few days before the hearing, the company settled, agreeing to pay back what it owed, plus damages. This only happened after the union threatened to add RCM to the claim.

Then, last autumn, RCM brought in cleaning contractor Tenon FM with the explicit order to cut costs, in other words, to cut the cleaners’ hours. After a brief negotiation period, Wilson and his colleagues were given an option: take contracts that would see their hours cut in half with a small compensation payment, or lose their jobs. The majority of the night cleaners stood united and rejected these new contracts that would result in half the hours and twice the stress. They were immediately given notice of dismissal.

“There are three buildings, one three stories tall and the others five stories tall. There are eight of us cleaning them now and they want us to do it in half the time. This is exploitation… this is shameless,” he says.Wilson has gone twice to his doctor  in the last few months for stress and depression, but he and the other cleaners haven’t lost their resolve. Over the last few weeks they have been on strike, on protests and have handed out flyers outside the college. Meanwhile, all demands for RCM’s directors to intervene, in a situation that was directly caused by its decision for a cheaper contract, were ignored. Emails weren’t even answered.

It is hard to imagine that the college would ever treat its white professors in the way that it is treating its migrant, mainly Latin American, cleaner workforce. According to IWGB calculations the savings made by cutting these cleaners’ hours are just over £ 50,000 per year. This is in a college that booked at £6.3m surplus in 2016 and that between 2011 and 2016 increased the pay of its director Colin Lawson by £63,144 to £228,144.

The IWGB is now preparing tribunal claims both against cleaning contractor Tenon FM for unfair dismissal and breach of TUPE (the rules surrounding the transfer of workers from one contract to another), and against the college for discrimination.

But while college continues to bury its head in the sand, Wilson wants to make sure he is heard. “If we win here it could set a massive precedent for other workers such as us,” he says “This is a renowned public institutions that trains people to be musicians, but they should also train them to be decent human beings… and look at the example they are setting.”

Volunteers needed for Institute of Optometry study on eyestrain — February 9, 2018

Volunteers needed for Institute of Optometry study on eyestrain

Do you suffer from eyestrain or headache when using a computer? Studies have suggested that between 30 and 70 per cent of the population may have this problem.

The Institute of Optometry, based in London’s Elephant and Castle, is looking into ways to help these sufferers and is seeking volunteers aged 16–40 willing to take part in a research project on eyestrain and headaches associated with computer use.

The study involves an in-depth eye examination lasting around one hour.  After the examination, each volunteer is sent a personal report on their results, which will also explain what steps to take to solve any problems they may have. In addition, participants who are deemed to need new glasses for eyestrain will be given a free prescription.

To date, more than 70 people have taken part in this particular study, with the majority agreeing they have benefited from their involvement.

More information

 

 

 

 

Emergency All-Staff Meeting on Pensions – Monday 12 February at 12pm (Woburn Room 22) — February 7, 2018

Emergency All-Staff Meeting on Pensions – Monday 12 February at 12pm (Woburn Room 22)

All staff with a pension whether it be USS or SAUL need to come to this meeting!

It will provide crucial information on what chnages are planned for all our pensions AND explain how the planned NATIONAL STRIKE is going to affect the University of London!

Any questions – dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk or 020 7862 8812

See below for an email from Tim Hall, UCU Chair, which spells out the issues:

From: Tim Hall
Sent: 05 February 2018 13:56
To: UCU Members
Subject: ⚠ Strike Action – Please Read ⚠
Importance: High

Dear Members,

As you’ve now surely heard – University of London Senate House Branch has voted overwhelmingly to strike for the future of our pensions. Potentially, this will be the biggest strike action undertaken in Higher Education history – and with good reason.

 

 

During a strike you should not do any work that relates to your employment

 

While we would strongly encourage members to attend picket lines to support each other and provide a visible presence, the most important thing is that you do not undertake any work on strike days.

 

 

Strike action will take place on:

 

February

·         Thursday 22nd

·         Friday 23rd

·         Monday 26th

·         Tuesday 27th

·         Wednesday 28th

 

March

·         Monday 5th

·         Tuesday 6th

·         Wednesday 7th

·         Thursday 8th

·         Monday 12th

·         Tuesday 13th

·         Wednesday 14th

·         Thursday 15th

·         Friday 16th

Why?

There is no real justification for this pension attack. The “deficit” isn’t real – it is an actuarial projection which isn’t even likely – it is just a possibility. By any normal commercial measure, USS’s finances are strong. Assets have grown by an average of 12% a year for the last five years, and it has a record number of staff paying into the scheme. Actuaries report that USS could pay pensioners directly from its income for 40 years without touching its assets. If a stand isn’t taken now the changes will be made by USS/ UUK to the pension and there will be no going back, and the situation will worsen as the pension becomes less attractive and productive.

These pension cuts are estimated at £200,000 per employee, with the worst hit being the youngest. The new generation of university staff, already bearing huge student debts and no real wage increase in their working life now face the deepest cut in pensions.

It is estimated that you will lose between 10% and 40% of your retirement income. This would mean staff who have been paying into their pension for their whole working lives would get a smaller and much less reliable pension. It’s important to note that women are likely to be the most severely affected by these changes – changes that would be implemented in the same year as we celebrate the University of London’s leading women.

I know that most of us will struggle deeply with the potential loss to earnings over this time (I’m supporting my family with just my wage) but the fact is that we simply can’t afford NOT to strike. The union has agreed to provide strike pay but priority will be given to those on insecure contracts and/or low earnings.  More details are available here [127kb].

I wrote a letter to the Vice-Chancellor urging him to publicly call for the reopening of national negotiations with the aim of retaining a decent defined benefit scheme, and commit to increasing the University of London’s contributions if necessary to protect this valuable benefit. Even at this late stage we can still get back around the negotiating table.

Not just about pensions

Although legally the strikes themselves are about the dispute on pensions, such a significant dispute cannot just be about pensions. This action will play a big role in shaping future management-union relations.

Historically, the medium-term prognosis for staff in industries where the employers rout their staff’s trade unions in a major dispute (which could happen if we don’t properly strike) is not good.

What next?

UCU have organised a meeting next week on the 12th of February from 12.00 – 13.00 (with another hour available for contingency) in the Woburn Room (Senate House Room 22). Please do come – you should have already received invites. We will have a National Pensions Officer present who will talk about the draconian proposals put forward by UUK and why it’s so important that we challenge them.

More information on the strike action can be found on UCU’s website: https://www.ucu.org.uk/uss-action-faqs.

See you at the meeting,

Tim Hall

UCU Senate House Branch Chair

FM Services Review: IWGB responds to the Vice-Chancellor —

FM Services Review: IWGB responds to the Vice-Chancellor

See below for an email from IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee to outgoing University of London Vice-Chancellor Adrian Smith:

Dear Professor Sir Adrian Smith,

I am writing to comment on the communication set out below this email from University of London regarding the University’s outsourced workers.  There’s quite a bit to comment on here, so you might want to refresh your memory by re-reading that post before continuing.

First, the charade which is the “FM Steering Group” has no legitimacy whatsoever.  I do appreciate that your PR strategy every time there is a campaign on behalf of outsourced workers is to come up with some alternative explanation of why you caved.  As a brief refresher:

  1. The £6,000 of overdue wages paid to outsourced cleaners and porters within 72 hours of an unofficial strike (and which was the main demand of the strike), was due to “negotiations”;
  2. The voluntary recognition agreement between Balfour Beatty and UNISON (back when UNISON actually had outsourced worker members) which followed on 3 weeks after the unofficial strike was also due to negotiations;
  3. Phased implementation of the London Living Wage for outsourced staff, which followed after just a few months of the UoL London Living Wage campaign, also down to “negotiations”;
  4. Increased sick pay and holiday pay for outsourced staff, following the IWGB 3 Cosas Campaign and two days of strike action called by IWGB, was somehow won by UNISON and of course, through negotiations;
  5. Following the launch of the IWGB campaign to end outsourcing at UoL in September this year, UoL suddenly announces a working group and progresses towards ending outsourcing because of this working group and the “recognised unions”.

Now believe me, I do see where you are coming from on the PR strategy- you don’t like IWGB and don’t want to legitimize IWGB, and don’t want to look like you caved to pressure, so you construct a parallel universe in which you came up with the idea to improve things for outsourced workers on your own, and in which the UoL UNISON and UCU branches are, for once, relevant to outsourced workers.  But given that PR and reputation is what you’re trying to address with the strategy, it might be worth pausing for a second to consider how utterly ridiculous you make the University look when the average bystander with even the vaguest notion of what’s going on thinks it’s a load of nonsense.

In the below note, UoL specifically mentions- again no doubt in furtherance of the PR strategy described above- the “recognised trade unions UCU and Unison”.  So it’s important to clarify that these unions have absolutely no mandate to speak on behalf of outsourced workers.  UCU doesn’t even claim to represent them, and Unison’s claims are absurd.  As the UoL is well aware, the overwhelming majority of outsourced workers at UoL are represented by the IWGB.  And many of these members made a conscious decision to leave Unison in disgust at the union’s lack of democracy and blatant collusion with management (for more on which see: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/mar/24/cost-private-contracts-universities-documents-services-workers).  Therefore, whilst it is no doubt useful to UoL to have a few stooges nodding along with everything you say, so far as representation of the views of outsourced workers is concerned, their participation in the charade of a working group has a total significance of 0.

Next in the note, UoL says it is considering two options, one of which is only in-housing some of the workers.  So let me make the IWGB position clear: this campaign will continue until all outsourced workers currently engaged by Bouygues, Cordant, Nurture, and Aramark are brought in house.  Given that the only reason in-housing is an option for UoL at all is because of this campaign, it would be nonsensical, even from a purely self-interest perspective, for UoL to only bring some workers in house.  That will not stop the campaign.  Indeed it will encourage the campaign to step up its actions as UoL will have proved beyond doubt (yet again) that campaigning gets results.

With regard to the assurances the Board of Trustees requested of the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group, we of course have no problem with fiscal discipline.  Indeed it’s one of the best arguments for cutting your bloated salary which, by even generous methods of interpretation, you could not possibly be worth.  However, any moves by UoL to make staff redundant, cut workers’ hours against their will, change workers’ shifts against their will, or put previously outsourced staff on inferior terms and conditions to their other direct employee colleagues, will be strongly opposed by IWGB.  If your plan is to make the outsourced workers pay for their own improvements, I suggest you think again.  And again, the campaign will not stop if any of the above occurs.

It is ironic that one of the Board’s concerns was protecting day to day operations.  Continued outsourcing is by far the biggest threat to day to day operations.  This is due to the number of strikes by these workers which are occurring as a result, and because the longer you leave these contracts in the hands of the incompetent contractors- who would struggle to find their way out of a paper bag let alone run facilities management companies- the longer these contracts will be run incompetently.

In sum, by all means continue with your paper trail, working groups, consideration of options, etc.- although if cost-saving is a concern, cutting down on the amount of hyperbolic fluff might be a good start.  With the wages paid for just the time it’s taken you and the other managers involved to read this email we could probably cover a handful of cleaners’ occupational sick pay entitlement under UoL terms for a year.  I look forward to reading the announcement in March that UoL, its working group, the recognised unions, have all come to the conclusion that everyone should be in-housed on UoL terms and conditions.

Kind regards,

Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
IWGB

Original message: 

As described at the ASM held on 17 January, the University’s Board of Trustees considered a progress report from the FM Steering Group at its meeting yesterday. The Steering Group, which includes representation from the recognised trade unions UCU and Unison, recommended that two options are considered further:
a) in-sourcing and b) a hybrid of in-house/outsourced provision.

The Board of Trustees approved the recommendations and noted that some level of contracted support would still be likely to ensure flexibility/scalability, independent inspection and specialist capacity. This level of detail will be developed over the coming weeks for a final recommendation to the Board.​

The Board of Trustees asked the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group to ensure that:

      • The bottom line on the University budgets is not affected by any changes to the current arrangements, i.e. any increase in costs must be dealt with through savings, reduced service levels or reductions in other activity.
      • That the University’s day to day operations are not put at risk during implementation of changes to contracts.

Next Steps

While we wait for the feedback from the two surveys (contracted staff and University staff), work will be undertaken to develop variations on the options mentioned above to establish what a hybrid model could look like. This will be developed and costed alongside more detailed costings for an in-sourcing option. A full risk assessment will also be undertaken for the different approaches which will factor both time and milestone events such as the ability to recruit management and implement systems in order to bring work in-house.

The FM Steering Group will continue to meet in February and early March to consider the survey feedback and progress on the options analysis. The intention is to bring recommendations to the Board of Trustees meeting on 21 March 2018

Demonstration in support of our cleaners facing sack at the Royal College of Music – tonight, Thursday 1 Feb, 6.30 — February 1, 2018

Demonstration in support of our cleaners facing sack at the Royal College of Music – tonight, Thursday 1 Feb, 6.30

Please find below details of our dispute at the Royal College of Music (RCM), where outsourced cleaners face discriminatory unfair dismissals.

As news emerges of Capita’s looming collapse, this is yet another example of the UK public sector’s broken outsourcing system, where the burden of ill thought-out management decisions disproportionately fall on the most vulnerable workers and end users.

The IWGB has called a protest for this evening at RCM, to coincide with a high-profile concert by maestro Bernard Haitink.

The union is also preparing legal proceedings against cleaning contractor Tenon FM for unfair dismissal and breach of TUPE, and against RCM for discrimination.

Case studies available on request.
Kind regards,

Emiliano

Royal College of Music outsourced cleaners and supporters to protest cuts and unfair dismissals

  • Protest to coincide with concert conducted by renowned maestro Bernard Haitink
  • IWGB is preparing tribunal claims for unfair dismissal, breach of TUPE and discrimination

Cleaners working at the Royal College of Music (RCM) and their supporters will be protesting cuts to hours and unfair dismissals that disproportionately impact the college’s Latin American workers, in what is another example of the exploitative nature of the UK’s broken outsourcing system.

The demonstration called by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is scheduled to take place at 6:30pm outside the Royal College of Music, Prince Consort Rd, Kensington, London SW7 2BS, and will coincide with a concert conducted by renowned maestro Bernard Haitink.

The protest is against arbitrary and unfair changes being imposed on the college’s night cleaners by new contractor Tenon FM. The majority of the cleaners have rejected new contracts that would see their hours cut in half and as a result the company has issued them with notices of dismissal. Some of these have already served their notice, while others are in the last days of their notice period.

The IWGB demands that all dismissals be immediately halted, that the the cleaners that have been already dismissed be reinstated and that all cleaners be allowed to continue working on their original hours.

The union is also preparing tribunal claims against Tenon FM for unfair dismissal and breach of TUPE, and against the Royal College of Music for discrimination, as we have been made aware that the decision to cut the cleaners’ hours is the result of cost cutting decisions made by the college that disproportionately impact Latin American migrants.

Wilson Ayala Romero, cleaner and IWGB rep at the RCM: “It’s deeply unfair that after five years of loyal service, from one day to the next they just take away my job. I clean their offices, I clean their classrooms and I am as much an employee as anyone else who works here, so I should be treated with the same respect. Despite that, they keep on treating us cleaners as if we were second class employees.

IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “RCM’s recent moves is just one more example of the college treating its cleaners like the dirt they clean. As the UK public sector’s outsourcing dirty laundry continues to get aired, the public will no doubt take a keen interest in the latest scandal occurring at RCM. If the college thinks it can just dismiss a group of Latin American cleaners to save a few quid on the cleaning bill with no consequences, they have another thing coming.”

In the past few weeks the cleaners have been on strike and a number of surprise protests have been held at the college.

These cleaners have a long history of suffering at the hands of the companies contracted out by the college to provide cleaning services. The IWGB was forced to launch legal proceedings against the previous cleaning contractor, Kingdom, after it unlawfully withheld thousands of pounds in wages from cleaners at RCM, the Royal College of Arts and Heythrop College. Following a process that lasted over a year, the company ended up settling in July, a day before the hearing was set to start.

For more information:

Emiliano Mellino, IWGB press officer

press@iwgb.co.uk

07506 684 192

IWGB University of London branch votes to support UCU action over pensions —

IWGB University of London branch votes to support UCU action over pensions

At yesterday’s packed branch meeting we had a lengthy discussion of the current plans for USS, and a talk from UCU Chair Tim Hall about the national UCU strikes planned in opposition to the pension changes.

The room was uniformly against the proposals and a large majority voted in favour of supporting the UCU strike action, which will begin on 22 February.

The IWGB has written to Kim Frost to confirm that non-UCU members will be able to refuse to cross picket lines without repercussions, and we will publish his response as soon as we have it.

An all-staff meeting to discuss pensions and strikes is planned for 12 February – more details to follow!

Want to work for the IWGB? — January 23, 2018

Want to work for the IWGB?

Due to the rapid growth branch of the Foster Care Workers branch at the IWGB Union, the branch are looking for a dynamic and enthusiastic office based assistant.

Experience of foster care is not necessarily needed as we will train you. However, the successful applicant will need to have great communication, listening and organisational skills, and in addition be able to work well as part of a team as well as on their own initiative. Knowledge of Microsoft Office or equivalent software packages is a must.

This new position will be key for our rapidly expanding branch. You will be the first point of contact for members, assist members with workplace issues, liaise with the branch committee, organise the membership database, help members develop regional groups and reps, signpost them to training, take minutes at branch committee meetings, organise venues and more.

This is a great opportunity to work with an exciting new union making a real difference to foster carers across the country.

The post will be based in London, and will initially be 3 days per week (21 hours) with possibility of extending to 5 days within a couple of months. The rate of pay will be £11.20 per hour.

The IWGB offers all staff a generous holiday, sick pay and pension package.

Applicants should send a short letter along with a CV to office@iwgb.org.uk. The deadline for applications is Friday 26 January. Any questions please contact sarahanderson@iwgb.co.uk.

BREAKING NEWS: Outsourced workers closing in on victory at the University Of London — January 18, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Outsourced workers closing in on victory at the University Of London

We heard back yesterday from the University of London, who are currently conducting a review of all of their outsourced services.

They announced that they have narrowed down the options they will present to the Board of Trustees from seven to two.

The 2 options are:

  1. MIXED ECONOMY –  bring some of the contracts in-house
  2. FULLY IN-HOUSE – bring all of the contracts in house!

This is another massive step forward for the campaign – since it began in September last year the University of London has completely shifted its position, from being committed to maintaining the status quo of contracting out all its soft and hard services to being on the verge of bringing everyone back in house!

The University will be surveying all staff in Feb, and then a final decision on which of these options to pursue will be taken in March by the BoT.

The IWGB’s position remains the same – the campaign will not stop until ALL WORKERS ARE BACK IN HOUSE!

The next strike and protest will be Thursday 25 January (https://www.facebook.com/events/391189084639287) – please come and help keep up the pressure until the University finally agrees to treat all its staff equally!

John McDonnell to speak at USS pension meeting tonight – 7pm at UCL — January 17, 2018

John McDonnell to speak at USS pension meeting tonight – 7pm at UCL

Everyone should come down to this if they can! If you want to come and don’t know where it is text Danny on 07783719479.

UCU London Region Public Rally

Defend Education – Stand up for Pensions and Pay
Wednesday 17 January, 7pm
Cruciform Lecture Theatre 1
Cruciform Building
Gower Street

Speakers: Sally Hunt (UCU General Secretary), John McDonnell MP, Rachel Cohen (City University, UCU NEC), Sean Vernell (City and Islington FE, UCU NEC), Carrie Benjamin (SOAS), and others

Organised by UCU London Region. Open to all.

University of London in-house campaign – next protest and strike 25 January 2018! — January 10, 2018

University of London in-house campaign – next protest and strike 25 January 2018!

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-10 at 09.25.11Join us on 25 January at 6pm as we protest outside the University of London’s Senate House and demand that the University put an end to its discriminatory employment practices. Security officers and receptionists will be on strike, with a picket line from 2pm.

That same day the University of London will be hosting the UK’s largest postgraduate fair, where together with many other universities, it will be marketing the courses for which it charges thousands of pounds a year. While students pay thousands of pounds to attend these universities, many of the staff are systematically discriminated against. Meanwhile university vice-chancellors and other top management keep on receiving inflation-busting pay rises.

The campaign has received the support of the shadow chancellor John McDonnell MP, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley, campaigning groups, student unions and trade unions.

Donate to the strike fund here:
https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/1870/the-independent-workers-union-of-great-britain

For more information contact emilianomellino@iwgb.co.uk.

IMPORTANT – massive changes threatened to USS pensions —

IMPORTANT – massive changes threatened to USS pensions

Please read this if you are in the USS pension scheme – the shit is about to hit the fan.

You may know that negotiations over changes to the scheme have been going on between UCU, the employers and USS.

The employers propose:

1. An end to the collective Defined Benefit (DB) pension scheme and its replacement with an individual Defined Contribution (DC) scheme.

Under DB, you know what you will get and what you will pay – risk is shared between scheme members and employers. Under DC, you know what you pay, you just don’t know what you will get – all the risk is transferred to individuals as members of the pension scheme.  This makes a DC scheme both expensive, costs of running the scheme are not minimised and collectively shared, but even more dangerously an individual’s pension is at risk of wild variation in asset prices immediately prior to retirement. The only solution to this for the individual DC member is that they themselves de-risk their own pension with the result that they have lower returns and a still lower pension.

2. A cut in the employers’ contributions to the scheme. Rather than promise a minimum level of contribution to our pensions they will transfer all ‘de-risking’ costs to members and cut employer contributions to 12.45% for future pensions. This will rob us of our pensions in the DC scheme. When everyone is being told they need to save more for pensions – our employers are doing the opposite.

Moving everyone to DC will destroy the link between past and future staff, break the important link that ensures the DB scheme remains open to new entrants and therefore continues to grow with positive cash flows, risks destroying future pensions and has the opposite effect of ‘de-risking’ by creating the very deficit they seek to avoid.

More details can be found here.

Despite UCU opposition, the employers are determined to push these disastrous changes through – and a decision on whether to adopt them will be made on 23 January.

The only way to stop this is going to be sustained strike action and a massive public campaign!

What can IWGB members do (feel free to email me with questions – dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk):

1. UCU are currently balloting members nationwide for strike action. They will get the results of the ballot on the 19 January. If strike action is called at Senate House all affected IWGB members will be able to participate and we will be on the picket line. It is vital that we all take part in this!

2. Write to your MP – 50 MPS have already signed an early day motion against these changes (see sample letter at https://www.ucu.org.uk/USS-emailyourMP).

3. Write to Kim Frost to request that the University itself oppose these plans – my email and his response are below:

Dear Danny,

The University is part of the UUK employers’ group and this group represents the views of employers on the USS scheme. As you know the negotiations on the current valuation results are in progress at present.

Best wishes

Kim

Kim Frost

University Secretary and Director of Human Resources

From: Danny Millum
Sent: 15 December 2017 14:47
To: Kim Frost <Kim.Frost@london.ac.uk>
Subject: Proposed changes to the USS pension scheme
Importance: High

Dear Kim

As you are obviously aware, proposals to change the USS pension scheme are currently being discussed.

These proposals would see the end of guaranteed pension payments and a loss more than £200,000 over the course of a retirement for a typical member of staff.

Would you be able to clarify the University of London’s position with regard to this issue?

Best wishes

Danny

 

 

Important! Your USS pension is under threat! — December 15, 2017

Important! Your USS pension is under threat!

You have probably already seen, but talks are currently ongoing over proposals from Universities UK (UUK) to radically change the USS pension scheme.

The key element of these changes is the plan to end guaranteed pension payments, which would mean a loss more than £200,000 over the course of a retirement for a typical member of staff.

UUK’s proposal is that – apart from death and incapacity benefit – USS should now become what is called a fully defined contribution (DC) scheme.

In effect this means that your final pension is no longer guaranteed, but instead will be wholly dependent upon returns from the stock market on your ‘investment’.

This proposal has been made despite the fact that USS themselves have shown that most employers can afford to pay more to help secure existing benefits and despite the fact that a majority of employers who responded to UUK’s own consultation said they wanted to retain a defined benefit scheme.

What can we do?

Talks are currently ongoing at a national level but are due to end on 18 December.

UCU are currently balloting members over strike action, and are planning strikes for February should these talks fail.

We need to make sure that there is strong local oppositon in each institution, and so we will be calling on IWGB members to support any strikes at the University of London AND campaigning vigorously in 2018 against these changes!

We’ve also written to Kim Frost to clarify what the UoL position is in relation to these changes.

Any questions email Danny (dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk) or Catherine (catherinemorrissey@iwgb.co.uk).

 

Tomorrow: Passenger Films x IWGB present: STRIKE! — December 6, 2017
Staff survey for #UoLBackInHouse — December 4, 2017

Staff survey for #UoLBackInHouse

Our campaign is getting closer to victory! Thanks to our pressure, the University has confirmed that an initial report on whether to bring workers IN-HOUSE will go to the Vice-Chancellor on 13 December, and draft recommendations will be made at the end of January!

As part of this report, all employees will be asked their opinion – so you will all receive a survey in the next 2 weeks! The University knows it has to give in, and we just need to keep the pressure up!

If you’ve got any questions or concerns about the survey, get in touch! Hasta la Victoria!

 

Report from the first ICE Forum meeting — November 29, 2017

Report from the first ICE Forum meeting

Monday was the first meeting of the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) forum.

After pushing for this for three long years, we in IWGB are delighted to report that it was a fantastic start!

IWGB now accounts for 16 of the 18 staff reps, so thanks to your support we have finally established a mechanism through which we are informed and consulted, in addition to the two other unions at UoL. Through IWGB, an alternative voice is finally being heard by University management in a formal setting.

Yesterday’s meeting was extremely positive. The University clearly took it seriously as they were represented by three members of HR (including the deputy director of HR services) and senior managers from UoLIA, Finance, Procurement and Estates.

In addition to the University’s agenda items, the IWGB raised a number of issues including appraisals, contracts and holidays for levels 1-6, among others. There was good engagement from management so we hope even more information will follow soon.

See below this email for a brief summary of the topics we raised on behalf of staff; we’ll send a more detailed report as soon as we can. Minutes should be available to all staff before the break. If there’s anything you want to feed back on the points discussed, please do let us know!

If you would like the IWGB reps to raise an issue concerning your particular workplace, or a general issue concerning the University or staff overall then please do get in touch with your local reps (copied in). You’re also very welcome to drop me a line. IWGB has fought long and hard to have an official seat at the table with UoL management.  Now that we have one we are very keen to use it for the benefit of staff.  So please do get in touch with any feedback or suggestions!

The next meeting will take place sometime next term. Don’t forget that you can contact us at any time to tell us about an issue that you think affects staff or that you want more information about. We’ll be glad to take it up for you!

Very best wishes,

Danny Millum

Branch Secretary, SAS ICE rep

IWGB University of London

Notes on the meeting

The University had a few items on the agenda, such as that they are revising the dignity at work policy and grievance and disciplinary procedures, and a discussion of the current Facilities Management (outsourcing) review.

Thanks to your input, the reps also raised several issues staff wanted to talk to management about, including:

  • CoSector – IWGB CoSector rep Colin Watson reported that staff feel there is a lack of strategic direction and poor communication. UoL agreed to consider setting basic standards for staff meetings and took on board the points about strategy and management.
  • Appraisals – IWGB UoLIA rep Bill Kelliher reported that the way they are conducted is uneven, the timing is unhelpful and many staff feel there is currently little point doing them. UoL agreed that this needs to be looked at.
  • Sickness policy – IWGB IALS rep Lindsey Caffin reported that staff couldn’t find the policy, and that it was being applied unevenly –some staff are called in to account for themselves after 5 days, some after 10, some not at all. It was agreed that policies should be easier to find and should be a support for staff rather than something intimidating.
  • Recruitment chill – IWGB Library rep Elizabeth Morcom reported that the criteria for applying or not applying the 6-month chill was unclear, with front-line posts not being recruited while other, less important roles are sometimes advertised immediately.
  • Multi-Factor Authentification – IWGB SAS rep Marty Steer reported staff concerns that MFA was encroaching on staff’s personal devices, and that the way this policy was implemented and communicated was not satisfactory. UoL managers agreed it had not been well-thought through.
  • Grades 1-6 holiday allowance – IWGB SAS rep Danny Millum spoke about the continued inequality of the holiday allowance, under which grades 1-6 receive 27 days and 7-10 receive 30 days. UoLIA UCU rep Tim Hall noted that unions had pushed hard for 30 days when UoL announced the increase from 25. UoL noted the strength of feeling on the issue.
  • HEE and UoL contracts – IWGB HEE rep Joe Parrott asked why it’s the case that any staff members in HEE who get a higher-graded job have to switch from UoL employment contracts to ‘agenda for change’ contracts, and reported that staff are not happy about it. UoL managers present were unable to answer this but promised to look into it and report back after the meeting.
  • UoLIA review/reviews in general – IWGB UoLIA rep Catherine Morrissey spoke about the recent review conducted in UoLIA, and asked UoL to note that conducting such reviews and using them to force through change is not an appropriate tactic. UoL acknowledged that this is a bigger issue that should also be on the agenda for the next meeting. Managers also reported that the teams in the review would be informed about next steps and confirmed that no other teams in UoLIA are on the list for review.

 

Boycott the School Census! —

Boycott the School Census!

Theresa May wants to turn local schools into immigration offices. Schools are collecting country of birth and nationality data of every child between 5 and 19 in education. Parents have the right to refuse or delete data mistakenly given in the past. Below is information to protect all children from this intrusion.

La Primera Ministra británica Theresa May quiere transformar nuestros colegios en centros de control migratorio. Los colegios están recopilando información sobre el país de nacimiento y la nacionalidad de cada niño y niña entre los 5 y 19 años de edad. Los padres tienen el derecho a negarle esta información a las autoridades o pedirles que eliminen los datos que ya han recaudado. A continución tienen toda la información necesaria para proteger a sus niños de esta invasión a su privacidad.
UCU opens ballot for strike over USS pensions —

UCU opens ballot for strike over USS pensions

UCU have opened a ballot for strike action, and for action short of a strike, over proposed changes to the USS pension. The changes will reduce retirement benefits by between 20% and 40%.

UCU view this threat as very serious, and are calling for “sustained strike action aimed at massively disrupting lectures, classes and the administrative life of your institution”. You can read the statement accompanying the ballot on the UCU website.

If you’ve got any concerns about your pension, or want to find out more about what IWGB can do to support you, please get in touch.

Foundation Day #UoLBackInHouse demo – pictures and video — November 22, 2017

Foundation Day #UoLBackInHouse demo – pictures and video

Our demonstration yesterday was noisy and fun, as usual, and really well-attended – so well-attended that when we went for a walk we shut down large sections of Bloomsbury! Here’s a selection of tweets and videos from last night’s action.

News roundup: joint employment case and Foundation Day demo —

News roundup: joint employment case and Foundation Day demo

Yesterday we held a massive demonstration at Senate House to demand an end to outsourcing at the University of London. The demonstration coincided with Foundation Day, when the Chancellor of the university, Princess Anne, comes to visit – a good opportunity to embarrass the Vice-Chancellor and the UoL management by showing how the majority of staff really feel about their behaviour. We’ve also launched a landmark case to compel UoL to recognise its role as an employer of outsourced workers. We got a lot of press coverage – here are some highlights!

Aditya Chakrabortty has written this great account of the latest developments in the campaign for the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/21/outsourced-working-university-of-london

Another write-up of the case in the Guardian news section: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/nov/21/university-london-support-staff-pay-conditions-agency-staff

Josiah Mortimer for Left Foot Forward: https://leftfootforward.org/2017/11/from-uber-to-the-university-of-london-migrant-workers-are-standing-together/

Jo Maugham QC sums up the case for the Good Law Project: https://goodlawproject.org/good-law-project-statement-iwgbs-joint-employer-case/

Josie Cox in the Independent: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/university-london-outsourced-workers-better-rights-lawsuit-iwgb-cac-a8066811.html

On the relationship between Brexit and the case we’re bringing against UoL: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/university-of-london-outsourcing-contractors-european-convention-on-human-rights-come-for-it-next-a8067416.html

On the BBC News website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42056769

Henry and Jason appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show along with Daphne Romney QC – the segment starts at around 42 minutes: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09g8mdh/victoria-derbyshire-21112017#

We also appeared on the BBC’s Today Programme, at around 8.30am yesterday: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09fj9fk#play

 

Important information about your pension — November 20, 2017

Important information about your pension

UCU have issued the following warning about the proposed changes to the USS pension, and threatened strike action. IWGB will support any UCU action, should it go ahead. If you’ve got any questions or concerns about your pension or the current dispute, please get in touch with Danny.

17 November 2017

UCU has warned of chaos in universities as lectures and classes are cancelled in the new year if a row over changes to the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) is not resolved.

UCU said proposals to remove the guaranteed level of pension benefits for hundreds of thousands of university staff were a bolt from the blue and that it would ballot members for industrial action in a ballot that will open Monday 27 November and close on Friday 19 January.

Under plans from Universities UK (UUK), guaranteed pension benefits through a defined benefit scheme would be replaced by a defined contribution scheme, where retirement income would depend on returns from money invested in the stock market.

study by financial advisors Tilney estimated that, given the same lifetime contributions, a defined contribution scheme would lead to a final pension worth only around 20% of that in the best defined benefit schemes.

The union pointed to analysis commissioned by USSOpens new window themselves that shows that most universities have the ability to pay extra in order to safeguard existing benefits*. UCU added that it did not believe the plans had the support of the majority of universities.

The union will ask members to back industrial action aimed at a substantial disruption of around 50 of the largest and most well-known universities in the UK including Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial and Manchester.

The action will include a series of strikes during February, as well as other measures such as refusing to cover or reschedule classes, or cover for sick colleagues.

Two rounds of cuts in USS benefits since 2011 have already left these staff in receipt of pensions which are worth less than those of school teachers and academics in non-USS universities. UCU is currently seeking actuarial advice on what exactly the changes would mean for different types of scheme members.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘After months of negotiations these plans are a bolt from the blue and would effectively destroy the USS scheme. It is categorically the worst proposal I have received from universities on any issue in 20 years of representing university staff.

‘These plans would remove members’ guarantees in retirement and leave them facing years of stress about whether their pension investments are returning enough income to live on. Staff always put their students first but their goodwill has been taken for granted for too long. If universities continue to pursue this action, they will face disruption on campus of a kind never seen before.

‘After months of prevarication, now is the time for vice-chancellors to face up to their responsibilities to staff and students and work with UCU to protect the hard-earned pension benefits of their staff.’

Eighty-seven per cent of UCU members who voted in a consultative ballot that closed last month said they would be prepared to take industrial action in order to defend the benefits of USS.

* Page 36 point 4 “Employers have the ability to increase contributions”

Stewart House reception leak – update — April 11, 2018

Stewart House reception leak – update

The IWGB has been in touch with the University over the ongoing leak at Stewart House reception, to flag up concerns raised by members of potential health and safety implications.

We received the following response today:

Having made enquiries I understand our maintenance teams have found a toilet had been blocked with what looks like clothing fabric jammed further down the soil stack causing the leak. Whilst Bouygues await their specialist drain maintenance company the leak has stopped having been made safe. Cordant have a cleaner attending every half hour.

If anyone does have further concerns please contact us at uol@iwgb.org.uk.

Organising meeting for all CIS Security Officers – Saturday 28 April, 1pm — March 30, 2018

Organising meeting for all CIS Security Officers – Saturday 28 April, 1pm

We will be holding an organising meeting for all security officers working for CIS on Saturday 28 April at 1pm at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (17 Russell Square – see map here).

This will be:

  • a chance to meet the IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee and President Henry Chango Lopez and find out more about the union
  • a chance to raise any issues and ask any questions
  • a chance to elect reps for the CIS section of the branch, and plan how to recruit and organise your colleagues

The meeting will take place just before our branch AGM, in the same place, where you will get a chance to meet other members from across the University of London and hear all about what the branch has been doing for the last year!

If you are serious about wanting to improve conditions at UCL, you need to come to this meeting!

Any questions let Danny (dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk or 07783719479) know!