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

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¡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”

London Living Wage increase at UoL — November 16, 2017

London Living Wage increase at UoL

Following concerted pressure from IWGB, the University of London has agreed that all outsourced workers will receive the new London Living Wage rate of £10.20 from the start of November! Of course, we’ll still be pushing for all outsourced workers to be returned in-house, with our #UoLBackInHouse demonstration planned for next Tuesday…

If you’ve got any questions about the London Living Wage or about the #UoLBackInHouse campaign, get in touch with Danny.

Protest! End Outsourcing, Zero Hours and Low Pay at UoL – Tuesday 21 November — November 15, 2017

Protest! End Outsourcing, Zero Hours and Low Pay at UoL – Tuesday 21 November

Next Tuesday 21 November, on Foundation Day, we’ll be staging a strike and protest to demand that the UoL workers are brought back in-house.

It’s really important to get as many supporters there as possible – so please come down for a 6pm start!

AND if you’d like to help with flyering in the run-up to the event, get in touch with Danny! We will be flyering on Friday at Senate House – if you would like to do a shift do just email dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk.

Outsourced workers at the University of London are fighting to be brought back in-house, to end zero-hours contracts and for pay rises.

Join them on 21 November at 6pm at Senate House as they strike and protest during the visit of University of London Chancellor Princess Anne. They will be united in one voice to give her the message: IN-HOUSE NOW!

Workers have been on strike for months demanding that the university end the discriminatory two-tier system which currently sees them employed by contractors on far worse terms and conditions than other staff. Outsourced workers are also more likely to suffer from harassment, bullying and discrimination than their colleagues that are directly employed by the university.

Outsourced workers are predominantly migrant and BME, while in-house staff are mostly white British. There could be no clearer example of the ongoing institutionalised discrimination in our educational institutions than this.

Following a series of strikes, demos, videos, supporters’ letters and petitions the university has announced that it is reviewing all its outsourced contracts – now is a key moment to ensure that the outcome of this review is IN-HOUSE NOW!

Workers will be striking during the day, and then assembling for a massive demonstration at Senate House starting at 6pm.

Please share this event widely – any questions just email uol@iwgb.org.uk or call 07783719479.

https://www.facebook.com/events/896148920559566/

#UolBackinHouse

 

 

IWGB supports parental pay equality — November 13, 2017

IWGB supports parental pay equality

IWGB recently signed up to support a national campaign to create parental pay equality for those classed as self-employed. Many of our members are currently mis-classified as self-employed or run self employed businesses as well as their ‘main’ job, so this is very relevant to our membership. The text of the letter is below. You can check out the website here, along with a petition – please sign it! http://www.parentalpayequality.org.uk

To:
The Right Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA
Dear Prime Minister
We are writing to ask you to change the eligibility criteria for Shared Parental Pay to include self-employed parents. This was raised in last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions by Tracy Brabin MP, and you promised to look into the matter further.
Self-employed parents and adopters are currently not eligible for Shared Parental Pay
(ShPP). The system of Maternity Allowance for the self-employed places the entire burden of childcare onto the mother, and offers no paternity or shared parental benefit for self-employed fathers or same-sex partners wanting to share childcare.
Self-employed mothers claiming Maternity Allowance have none of the legal protections
afforded to employees when they go on maternity leave, so the flexibility to share childcare and stop and start their maternity pay in order to maintain their business becomes even more crucial. We believe that in 2017 gender-equality is a fundamental right, not an optional extra reserved for those in traditional employment.
With the 4.8 million self-employed people in the UK (15% of the workforce) only expected to increase, the number of families affected is significant.

We would like to see ShPP implemented for all self-employed parents, as it would allow
self-employed men and women the flexibility to successfully run their businesses and care for their families. As ShPP is paid at the same rate as Maternity Allowance, and there would be the same number of qualifying maternities, we do not envisage there being a significant cost increase.
We look forward to your response

Yours,
Rushanara Ali MP (Bethnal Green and Bow)
David Arnold, Film Composer
Vick Bain, CEO, BASCA
Guy Berryman, Musician, Coldplay

Tracy Brabin MP, Shadow Minister for Early
Years (Batley and Spen)
Joeli Brearley, Founder, Pregnant Then Screwed

Kevin Brennan MP, Shadow Minister for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (Cardiff
West)
Christine Brown, Director of External Affairs, Help Musicians UK
Jonny Buckland, Musician, Coldplay
Tim Burton, Film Director
Will Champion, Musician, Coldplay
Tom Chaplin , Musician, Keane
Bambos Charalambous MP (Enfield, Southgate)
Eos Counsell, Musician, Bond
Cameron Craig, Executive Director, Music Producers Guild
Rosie Duffield MP (Canterbury)
Michael Dugher, CEO, UK Music
Anna Ehnold-Danailov, Director, Parents In Performing Arts
Derek Frey, Film Director
Paul Epworth, Music Producer
Olga FitzRoy, Founder, Parental Pay Equality
James Frith MP (Bury North)
Preet Gill MP (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
Elspeth Hanson, Musician, Bond
Ed Harcourt, Musician & Music Producer
Emma Hardy MP (Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle)
Ayesha Hazarika, Advisor to BPI and Political Commentator
Helen Hayes MP (Dulwich and West Norwood)

Sharon Hodgson MP, Shadow Minister for Public Health (Washington and Sunderland West )
Richard Hughes, Musician, Keane
Dr Rupa Huq MP Shadow Minister, Home
Office, Crime Prevention (Ealing Central and Acton)
Diana Johnson MP (Kingston upon Hull North)
Afzal Khan MP, Shadow Minister for Immigration (Manchester Gorton)
Kate Kinninmont MBE, Chief Executive, Women In Film & TV (UK)
Caroline Lucas MP, Co-Leader of the Green Party (Brighton Pavilion)
Shabana Mahmood MP (Birmingham, Ladywood)
Laura Marling, Musician
Chris Martin, Musician, Coldplay
Giles Martin, Music Producer
Seema Malhotra MP (Feltham and Heston)
Anna McMorrin MP (Cardiff North)
Catherine Morrissey, Women’s Officer, IWGB
Gerry Morrissey, General Secretary, BECTU
Christine Payne, General Secretary, Equity
Jess Phillips MP (Birmingham, Yardley)
Jo Platt MP (Leigh)
Lucy Powell MP (Manchester Central)
Jesse Quin – Musician – Keane / Mt.
Desolation / While The World Sleeps
Ellie Reeves MP (Lewisham West and Penge)

Cassie Raine, Director, Parents In Performing Arts
Faisal Rashid MP (Warrington South)
Tim Rice-Oxley – Musician – Keane / Mt. Desolation
Naz Shah MP (Bradford West)
Sam Smethers, CEO, Fawcett Society
Laura Smith MP (Crewe and Nantwich)
Alex Sobel MP (Leeds North West)
Jo Stevens MP (Cardiff Central)
Jo Swinson MP, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party & Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (East Dunbartonshire)

Alison Thewliss MP (Glasgow Central)
Horace Trubridge, General Secretary, Musicians Union
Chuka Umunna MP (Streatham)
Helen Walbey, Diversity Policy Unit Chair, Federation of Small Businesses
Stephen Warbeck, Film Composer
David Warburton MP, (Somerton and Frome)
Tom Watson MP, Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Shadow Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (West Bromwich East)
Gay-Yee Westerhoff, Musician, Bond

ICE Ballot results: All IWGB candidates elected! —
To all of our supporters – University of London admits using zero-hour contracts — November 10, 2017

To all of our supporters – University of London admits using zero-hour contracts

To all of you who have written to the University of London in support of our in-house campaign – many thanks!

Many of you will have received a stock response from the University, which contains a startling number of inaccuracies.

The worst of these is that the University claimed their contractors DID NOT USE ZERO HOUR CONTRACTS.

However, when presented with the evidence that this was untrue, they have been forced to retract this, with a reply from the University Secretary stating: ‘I’ve looked into this and will remove it from our responses in future’.

The fact that the University allows zero-hour contracts to be used is bad enough. The fact that it has been hiding this is even worse.

Please do feel free to let the University (Vice-Chancellor@london.ac.uk cc’ing uolbackinhouse@iwgb.org.uk) know what you think of this – a draft response is below.

Dear Kim

Many thanks for getting back to me, although there are a few issues with your response that I would like to clarify

1. You state that your contractors do not use zero hours contracts. In fact:

a) The majority of Aramark employees are on zero-hour contracts

b) A significant number of Cordant cleaners are on zero-hour contracts

c) A number of Cordant security officers are still on 336-annual-hours-contracts, which are the equivalent of zero-hour contracts

Furthermore, you have now admitted that zero hours contracts ARE used – at what point did you become aware of this?

2. Holiday and sick pay arrangements:

a) In-house employees receive 6 months full pay and 6 months half-pay. Outsourced workers receive 6 months full pay only (both subject to service).

b) In-house employees receive a minimum of 27 days, outsourced 25 days (subject to service, excluding bank holidays).

c) In-house employees receive on average each year 6 additional University days.

3. The promise to maintain the differential was made by yourself, in writing and guarantees that the differential would be maintained. There is no mention at all that this would be a temporary state of affairs, nor would it be logical to initially maintain a differential and afterwards to abandon it.

4. To say that you have seen no evidence of illegal deductions from pay, bullying or discrimination is extremely disingenuous – you have not seen them because you have deliberately looked the other way. The IWGB union has handled literally dozens of cases of exactly this sort with the University’s contractors, and would be happy to provide a breakdown should you so wish.

5. I note that you do not address the issue of pensions – presumably because you recognise that the University has no case here at all. The difference between the outsourced pension employer contribution (1% in the case of Cordant) and the SAUL contribution (13%) is enormous (although the contribution to your own USS pension is of course even higher). There is no justification at all why a predominantly BME workforce should receive the former, and a predominantly white workforce the latter – this is quite simply discriminatory.

We hope this clarifies why we and others will continue to support this campaign, and we would urge the University that, rather than continuing to drag out this process and besmirch its own reputation further while conducting this face-saving review, it instead recognises the inevitable and commits immediately to bringing all its employees in-house.

Don’t forget to vote in the ICE elections – the ballot closes tomorrow! — November 7, 2017

Don’t forget to vote in the ICE elections – the ballot closes tomorrow!

If you haven’t voted already, please make sure to vote in the current Information and Consultation of Employees elections in UoLIA, before the ballot closes tomorrow.

You should have received an email and reminder from ‘Online Voting’. Links and instructions are in there. You get to vote for FIVE people – don’t miss out!

The IWGB are standing FOUR candidates – Catherine MorrisseyNic CharltonRebecca Dooley and  Bill Kelliher – please vote for us to make sure the new forum is a strong alternative voice for UoLIA staff.

Over the last few years you’ve seen the efforts we’ve made in fighting for London Weighting and now to have outsourced staff brought in-house. We want the chance to make similar progress on behalf of everyone who works in UoLIA, so please give us your support.

The first ICE meeting with UoL management will be on 27 November. If elected, we’ll be in touch straightaway to find out what issues you think should be on the agenda.

Please give either Nic, Rebecca, Bill or me a shout if you have any questions.

IWGB serves notice of industrial action to Cordant at UoL —

IWGB serves notice of industrial action to Cordant at UoL

IWGB has served Cordant Services with notice of industrial action on Tuesday 21 November. Our members among the porters, postroom staff and security officers at the University of London will be out on strike, due to our dispute with Cordant over pay differentials.

This strike coincides with our day of action for the campaign to end outsourcing at the University of London. Please join us – there’s a Facebook page for our protest that day here: https://www.facebook.com/events/896148920559566/

If you can’t make it on the 21st, please consider taking five minutes to write to Vice Chancellor Adrian Smith, letting him know what you think of UoL and Cordant’s treatment of outsourced workers: http://mailchi.mp/8d61a9f1968f/help-outsourced-workers-at-the-university-of-london-9703

You can keep up to date with the latest campaign news here: https://www.facebook.com/JusticeforUOLWorkers/

IWGB ballots cleaners for strike at RCM — November 6, 2017

IWGB ballots cleaners for strike at RCM

IWGB ballots cleaners at the Royal College of Music for strike over cut in hours and potential redundancies

  • Hours cut and shifts changed to times that conflict with cleaners’ other jobs
  • The IWGB is exploring a legal challenge
  • IWGB launched legal proceedings against previous cleaning contractor over illegal deduction of wages. Case was settled in July.

3 November: The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is balloting cleaners at the Royal College of Music (RCM) to strike, following proposals that could result in most of them being made redundant.

Cleaning contractor Tenon FM, which was recently awarded the contract to provide cleaning services at the RCM, has unilaterally and without consulting the cleaners decided to cut the hours in half and change the times of the shifts. The new shifts are at times when most of the cleaners have other jobs, meaning that they will not be able to accept them and would consequently be dismissed.

Not only is the move cruel and arbitrary, but is potentially unlawful under the UK’s TUPE regulations 2006, as it comes immediately following a transfer from the previous cleaning contractor. The IWGB is exploring a legal challenge.

These are employees of long-standing, many of whom have served the college for more than five years and are already underpaid, as they work unsociable hours for no additional recompense.

The school and Tenon FM have ignored repeated attempts by the the union to sit down and discuss the issues, leaving the workers with little option but to launch a collective grievance and go on strike.

It’s deeply unfair that after five years of loyal service, from one day to the next they just take away my job,” says Wilson Ayala Romerocleaner and IWGB rep at the RCM. “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.”

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 the 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.

It is disgraceful that such a prestigious institution as the Royal College of Music treats its lowest paid and most vulnerable workers in such an arbitrary and unjust fashion, all the while hiding behind Tenon FM,” says IWGB University of London branch secretary Danny Millum. “We will not tolerate this ill treatment of our members and until the RCM reverses the decision the campaign of strikes and protests will only escalate.”

The problems faced by the cleaners at the RCM are symptomatic of the business model of outsourcing, where employers can shirk their responsibilities towards their workers by not employing them directly and instead having them work for a facilities management company or an agency.

The IWGB is campaigning to end outsourcing at the University of London, with a protest planned for 21 November at Senate House.

Photos of an impromptu protest at the Royal College of Music that took place on Tuesday can be found here.

Write to Adrian Smith telling him what you think of outsourcing! — November 2, 2017

Write to Adrian Smith telling him what you think of outsourcing!

 

Hi,

The IWGB’s campaign to bring outsourced workers at the University of London back in-house is in full swing. In the last few weeks we have had a massive protest, flyering outside Senate House, several campaign videos and a letter writing campaign with emails from high profile individuals and organisations, including John McDonnell MPJonathan Bartley (co-leader of the Green Party) and War On Want.

More information on the campaign can be found here and here.

Now we are asking you to take a couple of minutes of your time to help these workers end the discriminatory work practices that mean they suffer from worse terms and condition than those directly employed by the university. All you need to do is copy the email below and send it to Vice-Chancellor@london.ac.uk cc’ing uolbackinhouse@iwgb.org.uk .

This small act will go a long way to help ensure a better future for these low-paid precarious workers.

Thanks and solidarity!

Emiliano

 

IWGB organiser and press officer

Dear Professor Adrian Smith,

I’m writing in support of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain’s (IWGB) Back In-House campaign.

It is truly disgraceful that you continue to shirk your responsibilities towards your workers by maintaining a two-tier workforce, with outsourced staff receiving far worse terms and conditions than their colleagues that are directly employed by the university.

Your continued refusal to engage with the union that represents the vast majority of your outsourced and in-house employees is a further sign to how little you value your staff.

That is why I am joining the IWGB in demanding that you immediately:

  1. make all outsourced workers direct employees of the university
  2. put all zero-hours workers on permanent contracts
  3. give promised pay rises to security officers, receptionists porters and post room workers

Kind regards,

XXXXX

Save Whitechapel’s Hopetown Hostel! —

Save Whitechapel’s Hopetown Hostel!

38 Degrees and Sisters Uncut have started a petition to save a womens’ hostel in Whitechapel – we’d encourage you to read and sign it! You can sign the petition here.

Tower Hamlets council is evicting over 100 vulnerable residents from Hopetown women-only hostel in Whitechapel. The council is closing the hostel and cutting women-only hostel beds in the borough by one third. They have issued eviction notices and are forcing residents to move to mixed gender accommodation or sending them miles away out of borough.

East End Sisters Uncut are calling on Tower Hamlets council to:

  • Keep Hopetown Hostel open
  • Retain ALL of its women-only hostel beds
  • Invest in social housing and support services for women and non-binary people

 

Don’t forget to vote in the ICE election! — November 1, 2017

Don’t forget to vote in the ICE election!

If you work anywhere in UoLIA, don’t forget to vote in the election to select UoLIA reps for the new staff forum.

The IWGB are standing 4 candidates – Catherine MorrisseyNic CharltonRebecca Dooley and  Bill Kelliher – and it would be great if you could vote for them AND please encourage your colleagues to do the same.

You’ve seen the efforts we’ve made in fighting for London Weighting and now fighting to have outsourced staff brought in-house – we want the chance to do the same thing on behalf of people who work in UoLIA.

You should have had an email with 5 votes – if you can vote for the IWGB candidates and ask others to do the same that would be fantastic!

Hope that makes sense – just let Catherine (catherine.morrissey@london.ac.uk) know if you have any questions.

Voting runs until this Wednesday 8 November!

Outsourced workers’ stories —

Outsourced workers’ stories

Last week we handed out a series of flyers with stories from outsourced workers at the University of London – some anonymised – which described their experiences at the hands of the various companies that have held University of London contracts over the years. In case you missed them, you can download the collection of flyers here as a PDF: Outsourcing Flier_03

IWGB President Henry Chango Lopez takes RCM Director to task! —

IWGB President Henry Chango Lopez takes RCM Director to task!

At yesterday’s surprise protest at the Royal College of Music, our President, Henry Chango Lopez, came face-to-face with Richard Wistreich, one of the Directors of the College. Faced with his platitudes, Henry made it clear to him that our threat to strike is the result of a lack of communication from RCM – and gave him a lecture on how an educational institution should behave towards its workers! You can watch the exchange on our Facebook pages by follwing the link below:

IWGB issues notice of ballot for strike action against Tenon FM at Royal College of Music! — October 26, 2017

IWGB issues notice of ballot for strike action against Tenon FM at Royal College of Music!

 

After our members at the Royal College of Music raised concerns about Tenon FM’s plan to slash cleaners’ hours, we tried to raise the issue with RCM managers.

We’ve been disappointed by the lack of response, and so we’ve issued Tenon FM with notice that we’re balloting for strike action. We expect the ballot to open on 2 November.

If you’ve got any questions about this, please get in touch with Danny.

Huge support for bringing staff in-house — October 24, 2017

Huge support for bringing staff in-house

We’ve sent Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Adrian Smith a petition from UoL and NHS staff calling for colleagues to be brought in-house – it got an amazing 556 signatures in just a few weeks! The text of our letter is below:

Dear Sir Adrian

Please find attached 556 signatures from University of London and NHS staff calling for their outsourced colleagues to be brought in-house.

These were collected in just a couple of weeks – obviously more staff would have signed, but there’s only so much time even we can spend collecting signatures!

There is an overwhelming consensus that we want to be ONE University, and to end this unfair two-tier system.

Once again we call on you to announce that these staff will be brought in-house with immediate effect, and fully consulted over the process by which this happens.

Best wishes

Danny

We’re also going to be outside Senate House every day this week flyering and raising awareness for the campaign with workers’ stories – come and join us between 12-2pm or 4:45-6pm at the Russell Square entrance!

ICE elections to be held in UoLIA! — October 20, 2017

ICE elections to be held in UoLIA!

 

As there are 8 candidates for 5 ICE rep positions in UoLIA, there are going to be elections!

IWGB is standing four candidates, and would urge you to vote for them all to ensure this forum represents a strong voice for staff!

Read our candidates’ full statements: Nic Charlton, Rebecca Dooley, Bill Kelliher, Catherine Morrissey

IWGB has been established at the University since 2012 and now represents well over 100 in-house staff, as well as around 250 outsourced workers – that makes us the biggest union on campus. It’s important for outsourced staff to have a voice here as well as us, and that’s one of the things we want to bring to this forum.

Of course, directly employed staff like you and me are the focus of ICE as well and we think we can help shake things up! We take a different approach to the traditional unions: for instance, with London Weighting we organised a huge staff petition and several public meetings on that a few years ago and had HR really worried! The eventual deal wasn’t perfect, but we don’t think any acceptable offer would have been made at all without the pressure IWGB applied. We’re an alternative voice for staff that can really make a difference.

In addition, you may have seen us around the University lately, supporting and representing outsourced staff in their campaign. In just six months we’ve pushed UoL from saying “outsourcing isn’t our concern” to “we’re conducting a review of outsourcing”! We also do a lot of casework here for staff of all grades, and get great results on individual and institutional levels.

We’re innovative and adaptive: outside UoL we’re defining UK law on the ‘gig economy’. We’re still growing here and elsewhere, and have had a string of wins against employers in the courts. We’re proactive and effective in driving change in everything we do, and could achieve so much more at UoL in a forum like ICE.

The ICE forum will run alongside the University’s other ‘recognition’ meetings, which the two other unions attend. So Unison and UCU will continue to be consulted in this way. We’re asking you to vote for IWGB candidates in the ICE forum, because we think we have a different and equally valid contribution to make.

You don’t have to join our union to benefit from our work in the ICE forum. We promise to listen to you, fight your corner and communicate with you – this is a staff forum, and it’s about giving staff back some real power!

If you have any questions about this, please email Rebecca (rebecca.dooley@london.ac.uk).

ICE Forum update – 20 October 2017 —

ICE Forum update – 20 October 2017

We’re finally getting there! The first full meeting of the Information and Consultation Forum has now been scheduled for Monday 27th November 2017 from 2pm – 3.30pm in Montague Room, G26.

Most departments have now confirmed their reps, with the ones we know (HR are running the process in a slightly cagey fashion) as follows:

CoSector: Adam Lucette (IWGB) and Colin Watson (IWGB)

HEE: Joseph Parrott (IWGB)

P & FM: Jelony Nwaneri (IWGB)

School of Advanced Study: Lindsey Caffin (IWGB), Danny Millum (IWGB), Mark Murphy (IWGB), Damien Short (IWGB)

Senate House Library: Jordan Landes (IWGB) and Elizabeth Morcom (IWGB)

You might be noticing a pattern here! We are really pleased to have so many keen members and to be representing these areas – we’ll be adding more contact details BUT for now just drop Danny a line (danny.millum@sas.ac.uk) with any questions.

Planes Campaña Back in House — October 18, 2017

Planes Campaña Back in House

Semana 16 Octubre: Danny más otros activistas van a pedir a los empleados directos de la universidad que rellenen una petición apoyando la campaña y exigiendole a la universidad que contrate directamente a los trabajadores que ahora están tercerizados.

Semana 23 Octubre: Mesas de información/piquetes fuera de Senate House, con volantes, musica, banderas, musica. Vamos a tener al menos 10 trabajadores, empleados directos, tercerizados, estudiantes y activistas cubriendo dosturnos cada dia – el de la mañana (12:00-14:00) y tarde (16:45-18:30). Yo estare dando los turnos a los reps y activistas esta semana y preparare también volantes (que incluirán testimonios por parte de los trabajadores) esta proxima semana.

23 Octubre 15:30: Reunion con los reps de la campaña en el bar del Insitute of Education.

25 Octubre 17:00: Reunion con estudiantes de UCL que quieren lanzar una campaña para apoyar a los trabajadores externalizados de University of London.

Semana 6 Noviembre: Lanzamos nuevos videos de campaña que incluyen entrevistas con estudiantes y cleaners. Hablare tambien con Novara Media a ver si ellos tambien pueden hacer un video.

Semana 13 Noviembre: Hacemos todas las preparaciones necesarias para la protesta que haremos en Foundation Day.

21 Noviembre: PROTESTA DEL FOUNDATION DAY Y DE LA VISITA DE LA PRINCESA ANNA! Security, recepcionistas, porters y la sala de correos hacen huelga y piquete a partir de las 14:00. A las 18:00 TODOS, – incluidos los cleaners, estudiantes y activistas – Lanzan la protesta principal fuera Senate House. ¡Todos deberiamos traer cacerolas y ollas (y tapones), para hacer un mega cacerolazo recontra ruidoso! Ponganse en contacto conmigo si tienen otras ideas para la protesta.

Community picket/information stalls! —

Community picket/information stalls!

Come support our community picket/information stalls next week at Senate House
Come support University of London outsourced workers next week at our community pickets and information stalls outside Senate House (23-27 October).
Workers will be there to tell their stories, as they hand out flyers that reveal the cruel and discriminatory practices that are common for outsourced workers.
And for the peckish there will coffee and biscuits!
We will be outside Senate house between 12:00 and 14:00 and between 16:45 and 18:00.
In-House Campaign: Update and petition —

In-House Campaign: Update and petition

Danny writes:

At the University of London All Staff Meeting, the review of outsourced staff was discussed at length. They will be looking at everything including pay and terms and conditions.

This is obviously great news, and the University anticipate a report in December – but there is no reason why they can’t issue a general guarantee before then that all staff will be in-house by a certain date.

This has obviously come about as a consequence of the campaign pressure thus far – so it is vital that at this crucial period we keep up the momentum!

This week we have been asking all directly employed staff to sign a petition asking for their colleagues to be brought in-house – the response so far has been FANTASTIC! We have hundreds of signatures and everyone has been very supportive.

If you have not yet signed, or would like a petition sheet to take around yourself, speak to the guys on Stewart House reception or email Danny (dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk).

IWGB challenges Royal College of Music plans to slash cleaners’ hours —

IWGB challenges Royal College of Music plans to slash cleaners’ hours

IWGB has written to RCM on behalf of members who are deeply concerned about plans by the College, and Tenon FM, to cut cleaners’ hours in half. The text of the letter is below – If you’ve got any questions or concerns, get in touch with Danny.

Dear Professor Lawson

I am writing on behalf of IWGB members who work as cleaners at the RCM and have recently transferred via TUPE to a new cleaning company, Tenon FM.

When Tenon took over the contract, they immediately and illegally started telling workers that their hours would be changed and reduced. It was only following a challenge from the IWGB that they paused this process.

However in the last week these workers have been called in for 1-1 ‘consultations’ and told that the original proposals will now be implemented.

These proposals are unbelievably ridiculous and draconian – each employee’s work will be halved AND their hours will be changed (which is disastrous for many workers as these new hours clash with other jobs).

Tenon claim that these proposals have originated from the RCM, hence we are writing to you directly.

These are employees of long-standing, who have faithfully served the College for more than 5 years in many cases, and who are already underpaid, in that they work unsociable hours for no additional recompense.

The Royal College of Music’s most recent accounts state that it made a surplus of £2.3m – so there is no financial justification whatsoever for these changes, which will reduce the hours and income of these already low-paid vulnerable night workers by 50% and force through a change of hours which will further adversely affect them.

Unless we receive confirmation by Thursday 19 October that these plans are being abandoned, the IWGB will immediately:

  • ballot our members for industrial action
  • commence a campaign to publicise the Royal College of Music’s Actions via leafletting, protests, social media, press, television and radio (see our website for our previous such campaigns)
  • take the appropriate legal action against Tenon and the RCM

Can you also confirm how this decision was taken, whether other workers will be involved, and who else will be affected?

Rest assured – unless this process is halted, the RCM will suffer massive and deserved reputational damage and its treatment of its most vulnerable workers will be brought to the attention of stakeholders, students, staff and potential donors.

Best wishes

Danny Millum

Branch Secretary

University of London IWGB

Subscribe to our new YouTube channel! — October 17, 2017
‘Until Victory’ film screening —

‘Until Victory’ film screening

‘Until Victory’ – Migrant workers’ organising in the meat industry in Italy, 2016/17

An IWW London / AngryWorkers film screening

This new documentary is about the struggle of workers in the meat industry in Modena, Italy, in the winter of 2016/17. The workers are organised in the rank-and-file union SI Cobas. The material was filmed almost exclusively by workers and supporters themselves with their smartphones. It gives an impression of the physical violence and brutality perpetrated against the workers and their dedication to fight for a better life..

We want to use the opportunity of the film screening to discuss lessons for our organising initiative in warehouses and food factories in west London. If you want to find out more about this and/or if you want to get involved – join us for the film here:

Tuesday, 31st of October, 6:30pm

MayDay Rooms

Fleet Street 88

London

EC4Y 1DH

IWGB in Prospect magazine —
Branch meetings are now on Wednesdays —

Branch meetings are now on Wednesdays

Thank you to all those who completed the poll! The most popular day was… *drum roll*…

Wednesday!!!

We will therefore be moving our branch meetings to the final Wednesday of
every month! The remaining branch meetings for 2017 will take place on the following
dates (put them in your diaries!):

25 October

29 November

20 December

UoL branch members are idiotically walking 26 miles to raise money for our legal department – please sponsor them! — October 11, 2017

UoL branch members are idiotically walking 26 miles to raise money for our legal department – please sponsor them!

breathing_running_runner_exhaustedVarious brave / stupid members of our branch have volunteered for this year’s TWENTY SIX MILE London Legal Support Trust (LLST) Walk the Thames 2017, which will be taking place on Saturday 28 October.

The LLST raise money for Law Centres and pro bono agencies in and around London – one of which is the IWGB Legal Department!

Our Legal Department helps with a myriad of different issues, from cases of discrimination to unfair dismissal to unpaid wages.

It is absolutely essential to the running of the union and we need to raise funds to ensure that it continues to provide the support that members rely on.

So please sponsor us! Last year we raised over 3K – if we could beat that this year that would be fantastic!

Full details are here – http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=IWGBUnionWTT17&isTeam=true

…and it’s still not too late to join in – just contact joetrapido@iwgb.org.uk if you fancy coming along for all or half of the walk!