London Weighting – secret clause in 2015 deal could mean a further increase for UoL staff! — July 18, 2018

London Weighting – secret clause in 2015 deal could mean a further increase for UoL staff!

So if you remember the London Weighting campaign, we ended up having to settle for a gradual increase up to c3500 – and the University suggested that the issue was now closed….

However, it’s come to our attention that there was a clause in the original agreement which allowed LW to be revisited if the London Living Wage went up by more than 6% by 2018.

They obviously thought it wouldn’t happen – BUT IT DID!

We have just sent the following email to Simon Cain and Chris Cobb – do give Danny (dannymillum@iwgb.co.uk) or Rebecca (rebeccadooley@iwgb.org.uk) a shout with any thoughts….

Dear Simon

I am writing with regard to the issue of London Weighting at the University of London, which as I am sure you were aware was the subject of a campaign in 2014/2015 which saw the following offer eventually imposed:

  1. LW to increase by equal amounts of £273 every year from 1 August 2014 up to £3,500 on 1 August 2018. The rates would therefore be:

01/08/2014   £2,407

01/08/2015   £2,680

01/08/2016   £2,954

01/08/2017  £3,227

01/08/2018   £3,500

  1. LW to be consolidated into basic pay with immediate effect.
  2. Any national pay increases in the period to 2018 to only apply to pay less LW (i.e. LW will not go up any further than the amounts specified above in the four-year period). Any national pay increases after 2018 will be applied in full to consolidated pay;
  3. If the London Living Wage (currently £9.15) rises by 6% or more between now and 2018, London Weighting can be reviewed again during that period. If the rise in the LLW is below 6% then discussions will not be entered into.

As you can see, the trigger for the London Weighting settlement to be reopened was to be a rise of MORE than 6% in the London Living Wage.

The London Living Wage rose to £10.20 in November 2017. This is an increase of 11.5% on the 2014 rate.

As such, it is clear that London Weighting has been completely outstripped by the cost of living in London as defined by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission, based on the best available evidence about living standards in London and the UK.

 Can you therefore confirm that London Weighting will be reviewed, in line with the commitments made by the University at the time?

Best wishes

Danny

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University of London accused of shirking responsibilities to Lunchbox staff —

University of London accused of shirking responsibilities to Lunchbox staff

lunchbox-cafe-student-central-london1The University is continuing to press ahead with plans to shut the Student Central Lunchbox cafe and make staff redundant, despite IWGB objections that:

  • the consultation thus far has been a sham
  • the cafe is a resource for the wider University community
  • promises made to staff when Aramark took over the cafe less than 2 years ago have not been kept.

A UCL student told us that the closure came as ‘a complete surprise. This is a communal area that is really widely used and it’s not fair on us or the staff to just shut it down to build more offices’.

University of London staff, for whom the cafe had been a particularly valuable meeting point during the recent strike action, also complained that they had not been consulted over the decision to close.

The IWGB has flagged up the fact that the University customarily provides enhanced redundancy for its own employees, whereas its catering contractor Aramark pays only the statutory minimum. This means that long-standing employees stand to lose up to £10k having been transferred less than 2 years ago to Aramark with assurances that ‘nothing would change’.

Since then they claim the company has forced them to use its own expensive and substandard suppliers and has failed to invest, effectively forcing what had been a thriving concern into insolvency.

The IWGB has called for the process to be halted and a proper consultation to take place – if you want to knwo more do just email us at uol@iwgb.org.uk.

University of London’s outsourcing manager under fire for racist Facebook posts — July 10, 2018

University of London’s outsourcing manager under fire for racist Facebook posts

IWGB’s general secretary demand immediate action over racist and far-right posts by Cordant manager who oversees two of the University of London’s five outsourcing contracts

Dear Chris Cobb,

I am writing to you, in my capacity of General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), to express my grave dismay at the fact that the person you have chosen to oversee your outsourced contracts is openly xenophobic and racist.

The person in question is Lee Smith, the Cordant manager who oversees two of your five outsourcing contracts, in particular with respect to cleaners, porters, security guards, receptionists, and postroom staff. As you are well aware, the overwhelming majority of these workers are migrants.

The matter has come to my attention as his Facebook page, which is accessible to the public and has been seen by various of the outsourced workers he oversees, is replete with anti-immigrant, xenophobic, racist, and race-baiting posts.

I suggest you give it a look yourself, but to see just a small taste on what is on offer, the below suffices: an homage to Enoch Powell, a joke about how immigrants in the UK are benefits scroungers, and a joke about how Polish people are cleaners. For good measure he also wants fascists to have free reign to propagate their hate (see post about Tommy Robinson).

Now for some time we have been making the case that outsourcing, at least the way you do it, is inherently discriminatory. You have a predominantly BAME and migrant workforce which work on far inferior pay, terms and conditions, and treatment compared to their predominantly white British directly employed colleagues. And our members certainly feel as though they are bearing the brunt of the discriminatory policy.  But these recent revelations take the matter to a whole new level.

For now, in addition to working under inferior terms and conditions, the workers are being supervised by someone who thinks they shouldn’t even be here in the first place. Given some of the hostile interactions some of the workers have had with Lee Smith, including on one occasion Lee Smith aggressively pushing and shoving one of our members, needless to say, some of our members are deeply unsettled.

Of course, there are also serious legal issues which you need to consider, such as the University’s Public Sector Equality Duty pursuant to the Equality Act 2010.

Now your usual tactic is to place the blame for all things outsourcing on the contractors themselves. Not this time. You and only you chose Cordant for your contracts. No one else made that decision except the University of London. This is your responsibility. I want to know what you’re going to do about it, and I want to know now.

Kind regards,

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
IWGB

 

Birkbeck Justice for Workers Campaign Update #2 —

Birkbeck Justice for Workers Campaign Update #2

Below, is an extract from a letter from Birkbeck Justice for Workers, which provides an update on its campaign to bring Birkbeck, University of London’s cleaning, catering and security staff back in house. They also share a letter in solidarity received from the South Africa’s Outsourcing Must Fall movement.

Dear all,

Our campaign is gathering pace. We have over 450 signatures on our petition – we’d love to get that to 500, so please keep sharing with your friends and colleagues. Birkbeck UNISON are having positive negotiations with management and we know the weight of support for our campaign is strengthening our hand. We have also received a heart-warming message of solidarity from the Outsourcing Must Fall movement in South Africa – you can read that below.

The message of solidarity mentions fighting unions. We’d like to thank the University of London IWGB for joining us at our demonstration last month.

Best wishes

Birkbeck Justice for Workers

 

Solidarity from #OutsourcingMustFall Campaign, South Africa

We write to you in solidarity with your struggle for the insourcing of workers at Birkbeck College. Our struggle against outsourcing received national prominence during the student protest against fee increases in 2015 when insourcing of workers was included as part of #FeesMustFall movement’s demands. The solidarity from students raised the profile of our struggle against poor working conditions and wages we had endured since our universities introduced outsourcing of what it called, ‘non-core functions’ in the late 1990s.

Although outsourcing is commended as ‘cost effective’, ‘efficient’, ‘productive and strategic’, it has been shown through a cost accounting analysis based on the experience of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, that it results in increased ‘transaction costs’. These include cost creep from an increase in complaints and worker unrest, the loss of coordination efficiencies and of tacit skills and organisational memory (Adler et al., 2000, in Dumba, 2014).  The combination of these elements have shown the opposite of organisational efficiencies claimed to justify outsourcing.

Notwithstanding the victories scored to be insourced at some of the institutions in South Africa, there is still a long road ahead against outsourcing in our country. Not only are many higher education institutions still using workers from outsourced companies, the #OMF  has had to extend its campaign to include the whole of the public sector where cleaning, security, catering and landscaping services have been outsourced at local, provincial and national government level including parastatals.

We have combined different tactics of protests such as pickets, occupations and strikes to make our voices heard. We have also approached political parties to pass motions against outsourcing in the Legislature but we have yet to see results from this approach.

While we have worked with a union, and many members of #OMF have subsequently joined this union, we have had to fight on two fronts, of the union and #OMF campaign. The latter has proven to be much more flexible to respond to the immediate concerns of workers. We are also of the view that our campaign has the potential to revive and rebuild fighting unions in the process of struggling to ensure outsourcing does fall.

We wish you all the success with your struggle against outsourcing at Birkbeck College.

Yours in solidarity

#OMF Co-ordinating Committee Convenor

Executive Mukhwevho

 

IWGB training and workshops – Talleres de capacitacion y entrenamiento — July 8, 2018

IWGB training and workshops – Talleres de capacitacion y entrenamiento

The IWGB is organising two training and workshop events on Saturday 21 July (10.30am–4.30pm) for English speakers, and the second on Saturday 28 July (10.30am–4.30pm) for Spanish speakers.

This will take place at the Institute of Advance and Legal and Studies (IALS), room; Council Chamber at 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR.

This training and workshop will be an opportunity for you to learn essential organising skills and get informed about latest important policies such as data protection and employment rights, so it is important that you attend the whole session in order to make the most of your learning.

The workshop will feature the following topics:

  • Campaigning and recruitment
  • Union structures
  • Media training
  • Data protection
  • Employment Law:  main speaker, Nicola Countouris (UCL professor of labour law and European law).

The event is open for union officials, representatives, volunteers and case workers who will need to confirm attendance by the 10 July 2018 in order to book a place by sending me an email to henrychangolopez@iwgb.co.uk or a text to: 07922810798.

 Please confirm your attendance as soon as possible as lunch will be provided!

Finally, please note that the Employment law session which will run from 3–4.30pm  is open to all members and non-members so it would be great if you could advertise this widely .

Many thanks

ESPANOL

El sindicato IWGB esta organizando dos eventos de talleres de entrenamiento y capacitacion, el primero el sábado 21 de julio de (10.30am–4.30pm) para los que hablan Ingles y el Segundo el dia sábado 28 de Julio para hispano hablantes. 

Este tendrá lugar en el Institute of Advance and Legal and Studies (IALS), salon; Council Chamber en 17 Russell Square, Londres WC1B 5DR.

Esta capacitación y taller será una oportunidad para que aprenda habilidades organizativas esenciales y se informe sobre las últimas políticas importantes, como la protección de datos y los derechos laborales, por lo que es importante que asista a toda la sesión para aprovechar al máximo su aprendizaje.

El taller presentará los siguientes temas:

  • Campaña y reclutamiento
    • Estructuras del sindicato
    • Entrenamiento de cómo hablar con medios comunicación
    • Protección de Datos
    • Leyes laborales:

El evento está abierto para oficiales del sindicato, representantes, voluntarios y asistentes de casos quienes deberán confirmar su asistencia antes del 10 de julio de 2018 para reservar un puesto enviando un correo electrónico a:henrychangolopez@iwgb.co.uk o un mensaje al: 07922810798

Por favor, confirme su asistencia tan pronto sea posible ya que se proporcionará el almuerzo!

Finalmente, la secion de Leyes Laborales la cual es de 3-4:30pm esta abierta para todos los miembros y no miembros asi que seria importante que lo publiciten con todo el publico.

Muchas gracias

Henry Chango Lopez
President
IWGB

http://iwgb.org.uk/

 

Protest! Support women fighting to end outsourcing at the University of London — July 4, 2018

Protest! Support women fighting to end outsourcing at the University of London

Outsourced women workers and their colleagues at the University of London (UoL) will be protesting for equal rights with direct employees.

The protest on 10 July outside Senate House will highlight UoL’s hypocrisy as it holds events nominally in favour of women’s rights, while denying decent terms and conditions to migrant and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women.

It will coincide with the university’s ‘Breaking the Silence: Women, Leadership, and #MeToo’, event with speakers including Catherine Mayer, founder of the Women’s Equality Party, and is part of its #LeadingWomen season, which aims ‘to break down the barriers women still face in education and the workplace today’.

Your pay – latest! —

Your pay – latest!

Just a very quick update on this year’s national pay offer, which as you know is a desultory 2%!

UCU have announced that their members have voted overwhelmingly to REJECT the offer in their consultative ballot.

This means they will ballot for real in August for strike action over pay.

As agreed in our branch meeting, the IWGB’s policy is also to reject the pay offer – we will keep you posted as to next steps, but if you have any questions do just drop Danny a line (dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk).

IWGB supports call to repeal anti-union laws, establish strong right to strike — July 2, 2018

IWGB supports call to repeal anti-union laws, establish strong right to strike

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is backing the call supported by a growing number of trade union branches and organisations for repeal of all anti-trade union laws and their replacement with positive legal rights for workers and unions to organise and take industrial action.

In a recent statement, initiated by the Lambeth local government branch of Unison, welcomes the policies to this effect passed at last September’s Labour Party conference and seeks to ensure they are carried out.

As Labour’s policy says, “for unions to be effective workers needs an effective right to strike”. This requires the anti-union laws, from the 2016 Trade Union Act back to Margaret Thatcher’s first Employment Act in 1980, to be scrapped. In their place we need strong legal rights to organise, strike, win reinstatement, and establish recognition and collective bargaining. As far as possible the law should aid workers’ self-organisation, not hinder it.

We call on other labour movement organisations, from branches up to national unions, to also add their names to the statement, and look forward to taking part in coordinated campaigning on this.

***

WE NEED THE RIGHT TO ORGANISE AND STRIKE – FREE OUR UNIONS

We need abolition of the anti-trade union laws, which hamstring workers organising and taking action, and their replacement with strong legal workers’ rights. Otherwise we are fighting the challenges of low pay, insecurity and lack of rights with our hands tied behind our backs.

We applaud the 2017 Labour Party conference’s unanimous call for repeal of not just the 2016 Trade Union Act, but also the “anti-union laws introduced in the 1980s and 90s” by the Tories and maintained after 1997; and for a “strong legal charter of workers’ rights”“For unions to be effective workers need an effective right to strike”. This builds on the unanimous 2015 decision that the next Labour government should “legislate for strong rights to unionise, win recognition and collective bargaining, strike, picket and take solidarity action”.

We will campaign for:

  • Complete and speedy repeal of all anti-union laws.
  • Strong legal rights for workers to join, recruit to and be represented by a union; strike/take industrial action by a process, at a time and for demands of their own choosing, including in solidarity with any other workers and for broader social and political goals; and picket freely.
  • The right to reinstatement for workers found to have been sacked unfairly. A complete ban on dismissal for industrial action, however long it lasts. Full rights from day one of a job.
  • Strong rights for unions to access workplaces, win recognition, and establish collective bargaining, including sector-wide bargaining.
  • Unions’ right to decide their own policies and activities, determine their own structures and rules, and spend their funds as they choose, free from state and employer interference, in line with ILO Conventions and the European Convention on Human Rights.

 

IWGB applauded for standing up to the ‘gig economy giants’ — July 1, 2018

IWGB applauded for standing up to the ‘gig economy giants’

IWGB’s fight against organisations such as the University of London, which continues to trample over the employment rights of its outsourced workers, features on the politics page of the Guardian.

The article, “The tiny union beating the gig economy giants”, describes IWGB’s grassroots fightback that is helping to win basic rights for couriers, cleaners and other workers on zero-hours contracts.

It highlights a range of the union’s successful actions including last month’s Deliveroo case in which 50 couriers won a six-figure payout because they had been denied rights including the legal minimum wage and paid holiday. More important, the article pays particular attention to IWGB’s ongoing ‘back in house campaign’ at the University of London.

Written by Yvonne Roberts, it quotes from Glen Jacques’ letter in which the receptionist warns: “Every pyramid is only as strong as its foundation, and if the foundation is not maintained to a high standard, the pyramid will, in time, collapse.” And it includes profiles of three of the workers who run the union – Mags Dewhurst, part-time bicycle courier and IWGB vice-president; Sarah Anderson, chair of the union’s first foster care workers’ branch; and our president, Henry Chango Lopez.

Read the full Guardian article here.

IWGB questions proposed closure of Lunchbox café and subsequent redundancies — June 26, 2018

IWGB questions proposed closure of Lunchbox café and subsequent redundancies

Less than two years after staff working at the Lunchbox café in Student Central were TUPE’s to Aramark from University of London employment, plans are afoot to close the outlet. This would mean the loss of a vital shared space for students in Bloomsbury and potential redundancies.

There is no doubt that with proper investment this could be a profitable concern.  IWGB is appealing to the university to reverse this decision and recognise its wider responsibility for Bloomsbury’s student and academic community, and has today contacted Vivienne Shinner, Aramark’s director of operations (see below), to call for clarification and question the hasty nature of the formal consultation process, which is taking place without adherence to due process.

Dear Viv,

I have been informed by affected staff that there are plans to close the Lunchbox café at Student Central with a number of potential redundancies.

This information was communicated to staff at a meeting on Wednesday 20 June, at which they were also informed that the formal consultation process had begun.

As with previous Aramark restructures, it is clear that due process is not being followed here.

  1. Aramark has immediately entered into formal consultation over redundancy with no attempt being made over preceding months to improve the situation or involve staff.
  2. Insufficient information has been provided for this to constitute a meaningful consultation – all that staff have been told is that the outlet has been suffering ‘difficult trading conditions’ and has made a loss of £12.6k over the last 10 months. Without more detail as to the financial situation (previous profit levels, turnover, investment or lack thereof) it is impossible for staff to participate properly in this process.
  3. No consideration whatsoever has been given to the role that the café plays as part of the wider University community, and the impact the loss of this facility and this space will have on the student experience more widely, as well as the other outlets based in the building.
  4. This comes only 2 years after the restructure which saw staff TUPE from the University of London to Aramark. It is a damning indictment of the lack of resource that has been put into the café that Aramark are now looking to close a previously thriving café.
  5. You state in your letter that this is merely a consequence of ‘difficult trading circumstances’. However, in the meeting you said that the decision had in fact been made by the University of London – which of these is in fact the case?
  6. Coincidentally, this comes at a time when Aramark and the University have been forced by the IWGB campaign to end zero-hour contracts at the UoL – it would appear extremely convenient that Aramark have chosen this moment to try and save money by making staff redundant.

Could you please provide full detail of the financial position of the café and the decision-making process / alternatives considered prior to this point?

Could you also confirm who on the University of London side is responsible for this decision?

Can you confirm that in ANY redundancy package staff will receive the enhanced redundancy terms accorded to University of London staff?

Best wishes,

Danny

 

IWGB #LeadingWomen event to highlight University of London’s unfair treatment of outsourced women — June 25, 2018

IWGB #LeadingWomen event to highlight University of London’s unfair treatment of outsourced women

The University of London’s ‘vague and noncommittal assurances’ to bring workers in house creates a back door out of which it can retreat at any time. As a result, IWGB Women’s Officer Catherine Morrissey has written to the University of London to annouce that in the absence of a concrete date for bringing outsourced workers in-house tthe IWGB will be holding its own #LeadingWomen event on 10 July at Senate House (https://www.facebook.com/events/384636605363013/) to highlight the negative impact of outsourcing on women.

Dear Chris,

As you will be aware, outsourced staff at the University of London recently voted to continue their ‘back in house’ campaign, after receiving vague and noncommittal assurances – via an announcement made not to them, but to their directly employed colleagues – of the University’s intention to bring workers in house ‘where there is an opportunity and clear rationale’.

I am sure you can understand why this wording (which creates a back door out of which the University can retreat at any time), and the lack of a clear and accountable timescale, is not acceptable to the workers, and is wholly insufficient to halt the campaign which has already seen the university spend well in excess of £500,000 on additional security, not to mention the financial and reputational losses it has suffered from disruption and cancellation of events.

The next planned event in the campaign will be a protest on 10 July, coinciding with the rescheduled ‘Leading Women’ event with which the University presumably aims to bolster its credentials as a forward-thinking and aspirational institution.

As Women’s Officer of a trade union representing a diversity of marginalised groups, naturally I’m delighted to see the University of London promoting equality. But while the University pushes ahead with a series of events celebrating its historic steps to advance the rights of one group, current University management seem unaware of the irony of prolonging a situation which denies rights to another.

The focus of our protest will be our very own outsourced #LeadingWomen, who for years have been leading the fight to be treated with dignity and respect by the institution in which they work. They are determined to continue the campaign until they receive a direct and unambiguous commitment to bring all outsourced workers in house within 12 months.

The workers and their demands are perfectly reasonable. So, if you would like to enter into meaningful discussions to prevent further disruption, we would invite you to do so at the earliest opportunity.

Kind regards,

Catherine Morrissey
Women’s Officer, IWGB
Chair, IWGB Legal Department Subcommittee
University of London IWGB member
https://iwgb-universityoflondon.org

 

End outsourcing at Birkbeck: petition and demonstration — June 20, 2018

End outsourcing at Birkbeck: petition and demonstration

The campaign to end outsourcing at the University of London is picking up momentum.

Birkbeck had decided to start its own in-house campaign beginning with a demonstration on 26 June, and a call to sign the ‘Birkbeck Justice for Workers’ petition as detailed below.

Dear all,

Sign the Birkbeck Justice for Workers petition: https://tinyurl.com/bbkj4w
Join the demonstration: outside the Birkbeck main building, Tuesday 26 June, 4–6pm

There is inequality at the heart of our university. Cleaning, catering and security staff are outsourced. The workers get lower wages and worse conditions, such as sick leave and pensions.

UNISON and the other trade unions at Birkbeck are organising the campaign to end outsourcing: we want the workers brought back in-house. This means they would be directly employed by the university. We believe that these services are essential: without cleaning, catering and security, there could be no teaching or research.

We ask that Birkbeck commits to bringing all of its outsourced workers back in-house within six months, without any reduction in jobs or services. This means the workers will get equality when it comes to pay, sick leave, holidays, pensions; and also access to the library and IT, study assistance, family leave, and an end to zero-hours contracts in catering.

We call on the Master of Birkbeck, Professor David Latchman, to make a written commitment to this effect as soon as possible.

How you can support the campaign:

Best wishes

 

Birkbeck Justice for Workers

 

This year’s payrise for University of London staff – latest news —

This year’s payrise for University of London staff – latest news

At our last branch meeting we discussed the pay offer for this year for directly employed University staff – currently at 2%.

The consensus of members was that this was unacceptable. Although higher than previous years, it is still below inflation and thus in real terms constitutes a pay cut.

Obviously this would do nothing to correct the effect of years of sub-inflation payrises – the unions had put in an original claim of 7.5% precisely to start to compensate for our 21% loss of income since 2010.

The meeting agreed to do two things:

  1. On a national level, to support any action taken by UCU and UNISON, who are currently balloting over the pay offer (this closes 27 June).
  2. At a local level, for the branch secretary to write to the University and submit a claim for the University to commit to a minimum rise of 7.5% (in other words, should the national increase be less than this, the University would top it up to reflect the additional expenses of London living and the UoL’s healthy financial position).

We’ll keep you posted re next steps – any questions just drop Danny (dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk) or Rebecca (rebeccadooley@iwgb.org.uk) a line!

IWGB general secretary assesses ruling against Pimlico Plumbers — June 14, 2018

IWGB general secretary assesses ruling against Pimlico Plumbers

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), assesses the significance of Wednesday’s supreme court ruling against Pimlico Plumbers, in which it unanimously held that one of its so-called ‘gig economy’ workers was entitled to employment rights.

Writing in the Guardian, he said “this was a highly awaited decision that has already generated commentary from experts in the field. However, if the question is ‘What did it change?’, the short answer is ‘Not much’. It’s more significant in that it confirms what we already knew to be correct.”

Read the full ‘When will ‘gig economy’ companies admit that their workers have rights?

University of London claims over zero-hours contracts immediately exposed — June 13, 2018

University of London claims over zero-hours contracts immediately exposed

zerohourstweet
Quite a few people noticed your original announcement, so it’s probably not ideal if it turns out to be completely untrue…

It was too good to be true. Last week the University of London responded to the latest strike by its outsourced workers with this headline grabbing concession, stating in an intranet post that:

In addition it can now be confirmed that zero hour contracts will be eliminated by the end of the summer.

The IWGB immediately wrote to the University to confirm the details of this. We were told that this was being handled by the University’s catering contractor Aramark. So we wrote to Aramark. Here’s the response of their Director of Operations:

We are currently  considering changes to our current contracts of employment in line with the University’s recent statement. Aramark will meet each of our employees individually to ascertain what contract best suits them; as there are a number of variables that they will need to consider given individual circumstances.

Should any of our team wish to be accompanied by you then I have no objection to you accompanying them to the meeting and with regards the time-frame, we are planning to complete our consultations and implement any agreed changes with our teams by the end of the 2018 calendar year.

Within the space of a few days, the University’s public statement has been completely contradicted by its contractor, who have added another 4 months at least onto the process before it has even begun.

If anyone was in any doubt as to why the campaign will continue until workers have a cast-iron guarantee and a firm date in the next year when they be in-house – now you see what we are dealing with!

 

University of London commits to abolishing zero-hours contracts by new academic year — June 11, 2018

University of London commits to abolishing zero-hours contracts by new academic year

A strike and subsequent demonstration from the IWGB on Wednesday 6 June has pushed the University of London to release a statement regarding the future of outsourced contracts at the university’s central properties.

While concessions were made with regards to zero-hour contracts – which will be abolished by the end of the summer vacation – they continue to lack a commitment to bring all outsourced staff back in-house over the coming 12 months. Until this is promised, the IWGB will continue its campaign to support the brave outsourced staff at the University of London who are still needing to fight for equality in terms and conditions, and treatment. Continue reading

Second draft: Better but still a fail — June 8, 2018

Second draft: Better but still a fail

Dear Professor Sir Adrian Smith,

Please do forgive me for the delay- on Wednesday you put out a new statement with the University of London’s position on outsourcing (below), and I’ve only just now had the opportunity to write you to tell you how useless it is.

But first let’s start on a positive note: like any piece of writing, the second draft is much better than the first. However, given that the first draft was so rambling and incoherent as to render it virtually meaningless, the bar was set at an admittedly low level. I reckon we’ll be there by the third or fourth draft.

You make a point of referring to the “25 IWGB strikers picketing outside Senate House.” I must say this does cause me some concern. And I’m not talking about the contemptuous nature in which you dismiss the legitimacy of your outsourced staff’s grievances, I’m talking more about your ability to count.

Given that one of your main reasons for delaying the inevitable insourcing is budgetary pressures, I do wonder if those budgetary pressures might evaporate when analysed by someone who knows how to add? Perhaps you’d like to delegate this function, but it’s never too late to acquire new skills so if you do want to take a stab at it yourself, you might find this book of some assistance: Basic Maths for Dummies. Just make sure to have it delivered on a day when your postroom staff are not on strike!

I’m sorry you find it frustrating that the IWGB continues to strike despite UoL’s commitment that it would bring services in house “where there is a fit with strategic priorities”. But I do think this rather betrays a lack of sympathy on your part.

Imagine if when you were offered the role of Vice-Chancellor, instead of UoL committing to pay you the astronomical £175,307 salary you currently earn they’d said: “Adrian, we’ll pay you £50K per year and then increase it to £175,307 where there is a fit with strategic priorities”, something tells me I’d be writing to a different VC right now!

I also note the usual trademarks of self-congratulatory praise and the attribution of credit for any progress made to UNISON and UCU. This time you’ve even managed to fit both in one sentence – I guess practice makes perfect!

I have to say though, I am surprised to see you express the belief that protests, industrial action, etc. will continue regardless of any decision UoL might make on outsourcing. This is all the more surprising given we have stated our position in this regard ad nauseum.

But out of sympathy for your struggles with numeracy, and in light of your apparent difficulties with literacy as well, I’ll state the position one more time: the IWGB will continue campaigning until there is a commitment that all outsourced workers will be brought back in house in 12 months or less. So, when you fail to commit to bringing workers in house in that time frame the campaign continues. Professor, you really don’t need a PhD to understand the logic of this one.

On a serious note, I think we can all agree that the UoL is currently in total meltdown. Industrial strife, protests, strikes, student occupations, a slew of extremely negative national press coverage, public criticism from national politicians, a security lock down rendering basic health and safety protections non-existent, a reputation being dragged through the mud, and more.

And despite all that UoL still refuses to negotiate with the IWGB and accede to its outsourced workers’ reasonable demands. Something tells me there must be a better way of doing things.

Best wishes,

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
IWGB

 

Statement from University of London’s Vice-Chancellor setting out the university’s position on outsourcing

Dear colleagues,​

As you will have seen and heard, we currently have about 25 IWGB strikers picketing outside Senate House together with 7 students protesting inside the building.

It is very disappointing that the IWGB are continuing to disrupt the University’s operations, particularly after the Board of Trustees’ decision to bring services in-house where there is a fit with strategic priorities. The University together with UCU and Unison fought very hard to achieve this breakthrough decision despite concerns from the Board that the additional costs could impact the delivery of the University’s academic mission. The continued protests reinforce the belief expressed by the Board that bringing services in-house will not eliminate continued disruption and the resulting high costs.

The recent additional security provided by the current contract has prevented five further occupations but at a cost in excess of £400k. Today’s student occupation follows a reduction in the level of security and consequently arrangements are being reconsidered again. This additional cost will inevitably impact the University’s budget.

Having reached its decision, the Board of Trustees requested that the University brings forward detailed plans as quickly as possible. It is anticipated that some services will be brought in-house within the 2018/19 academic year. In addition it can now be confirmed that zero hour contracts will be eliminated by the end of the summer. Nevertheless there remain concerns that making changes too quickly carries logistical, contractual and financial risks, and therefore the University will not commit to unrealistic and undeliverable timeframes.

 

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up —

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up

Dear Chris

I have not yet received a reply from yourself or the University to my emails below, but as a new statement has appeared on the intranet I am going to take that as a response of sorts.

There is much in that statement to take issue with (I believe my colleague Dr Moyer-Lee has already been in touch regarding this), but I just wanted to concentrate on one key point.

The statement claims: ‘The continued protests reinforce the belief expressed by the Board that bringing services in-house will not eliminate continued disruption and the resulting high costs’.

Surely it is obvious that the opposite is true.

The protests have continued because services have NOT been brought in-house. All the University has done is issue a vague statement which guarantees nothing.

A clear declaration that all services will be brought in house within 12 months, if agreed by the workers (we do like to include the actual people affected in these decisions), would end the campaign and of course eliminate the continued disruption.

This is the IWGB position, and it could not be more reasonable or straightforward. I would once again ask you to look at the situation objectively – these workers are simply asking for equal treatment. The University is denying them this, and refusing to talk to them or their representatives. Therefore they have no option but to campaign. The costs that this is incurring for our institution are totally unnecessary, and result from the University’s unreasonableness.

I, and your outsourced workers, would appreciate at least the courtesy of a reply to this email.

Best wishes,

Danny

 

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

 

Sent on 5 June 2018

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up

Dear Chris

I am also attaching today’s letter from John McDonnell, in which he calls for a new statement from the University of London containing ‘no longer than a 12-month implementation period’ and ‘dialogue and negotiations with the IWGB’.

I hope that the University will take note of the opinion of such a senior figure, and take these two sensible steps to resolve this issue.

Best wishes

Danny

 

Sent on 5 June 2018

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up

Dear Chris

I am just following up on my emails below, to both yourself and the Board of Trustees, having received a reply to neither.

I am doing so in the light of tomorrow’s industrial action and protest, and also the revelations in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper as to the sheer scale of the University of London’s spending on additional security.

IWGB members (particularly those Cordant workers who have been on strike for the last year) are extremely frustrated and disappointed, having been given no solid guarantees at all as to their future, and left hanging with appalling management and discriminated against in terms of their terms and conditions. We have continually offered the University the opportunity to negotiate directly with its outsourced workers – and the University has refused to do so, and instead spent hundreds of thousands of pounds unnecessarily.

The University now has the opportunity to resolve this crisis (see below for the workers’ extremely reasonable demands – that contracts be brought back in-house within 12 months). Should it not take it, then it must take responsibility for all the additional costs, damage to reputation (the Observer will be reporting tomorrow from the picket line) and disruption to its core academic mission.

I hope that you and the Board of Trustees realise that it is simply irrational to continue with this policy.

Best wishes,

Danny

 

Sent on 31 May 2018

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees

Dear Board of Trustees members

I am writing as branch secretary of the University of London IWGB with regard to the campaign to bring workers in-house at the University of London.

I would like to start by apologising for not writing to the whole Board. As you probably know, it’s hard to track down contact details for all the members – please do forward this on as appropriate!

As I am sure you are aware, the IWGB represents the vast majority of outsourced workers at the University of London, and has been campaigning since September 2017 to end outsourcing and the discriminatory 2-tier workforce at Senate House.

The campaign has garnered huge press attention and popular support, most recently featured the biggest outsourced worker strike in HE history, and has resulted in the decision of the Board of Trustees (made at the 23 May meeting) to bring workers back in-house.

However, as you will see from my email below, while we welcome this decision in principle, the statement issued by Adrian Smith is extremely vague, and as a consequence has no chance of achieving the stated aims of the Board in reducing the risk of industrial action or ending disruption at the University of London.

Indeed, there is another strike planned for next Wednesday 6 June, which has already caused a major event to be moved.

What we are calling for is very straightforward – a clear statement from the University of London (similar to that made by SOAS) that outsourcing will end in 12 months or less.

Without clarity on this issue, there is no way that our members and supporters (who know that it is only their pressure that has brought the University to this decision) will end their campaign.

We will be making this letter public, so that it is quite clear how reasonable the IWGB position is – and that the ball is clearly in the University of London’s court if it wishes to end this dispute.

Best wishes,

Danny

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

 

Sent on 30 May 2018

Subject: Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – next steps

Dear Chris

I am writing in response to the message below from the Vice-Chancellor regarding the Board of Trustee’s decision on bringing outsourced workers in-house.

While we welcome the decision in principle expressed below, this statement will not be sufficient to end the in-house campaign at the University of London, or stop the strike action due to take place next week.

The disruption to the University’s activity will continue (I am sure that you will be aware that next week’s Down and Out event has chosen to move location in support of the workers) and the University will continue to accrue negative publicity (see today’s letter from Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley (attached) as well as numerous press articles (of which this is the latest). The situation is only likely to escalate given the extreme disappointment among workers which the VC’s statement has engendered.

I am therefore writing to clarify what is needed ‘to expedite the process to reduce the risk of industrial action as far as possible and ensure the University is not distracted or hindered from furthering its core academic mission’ – something which both we and the Board wish to see.

The current statement is much too vague with regard to contracts, timescales and even which groups will be affected.

Workers require a statement along the lines of the 4 August 2017 SOAS announcement from Baroness Amos, which made clear that outsourcing would be ended within 12 months, and all workers brought in-house house with no loss of jobs or hours.

The IWGB and its members would then be prepared to suspend the campaign, and we could move onto working together to ensure that the transition was a smooth one and beneficial to both parties.

Our position is an eminently reasonable one, and I would remind you that we remain (as I have reiterated on numerous occasions) open to direct talks to resolve this dispute.

Best wishes,

Danny

 

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

 

Message from the Vice-Chancellor regarding Board of Trustees decision

From: Human Resources
Sent: 24 May 2018 16:04
To: Central-University <central-university@london.ac.uk>
Subject: Message from the Vice Chancellor

Dear Colleagues

I am writing to you to update you on the discussion and decision on the Facilities Management Review that was taken at the Board of Trustees meeting yesterday afternoon. The Board accepted the recommendation from the Facilities Management Review Group that:

The University will develop an efficient provision model in which in house services are supported by contracts designed to provide both the specialist expertise and the flexibility to respond to the varying needs of the University. 

However the Board raised significant concerns over the additional costs of bringing services in house and the impact on the University’s academic agenda. The Board were content to support the Review Group’s recommendations contingent on seeing more detailed plans and costs which would deliver benefits to both staff and the University together with plans for mitigating the impact on academic activities and student facing services. The Board would like the University Management to expedite the process to reduce the risk of further industrial actions as far as possible and ensure the University is not distracted or hindered from furthering its core academic mission.

The decision will mean a significant financial investment which will be linked to key strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring  security and compliance at Senate House and across our estate following heightened security risks
  • Ensuring Senate House offers a high quality experience for staff, academic activity and events
  • The development of an effective Residential Student Life programme, recognising that we need to enhance and broaden our pastoral care for residents in halls

In practical terms, these initiatives will be progressed over the next 12-18 months with some services being brought in house in 2018/19 where there is an opportunity and clear rationale for doing this although the process will be phased over subsequent years.

I would like to thank the Review Group on the thoroughness of the review and the understanding reached on an extremely complex set of issues. While the outcome may not meet everyone’s expectations, I do believe it to be reasonable, measured and deliverable.

Based in the Board’s decision, I have asked for additional security to be stepped down in the hope that the threat of student occupation is now reduced.  This will be kept under review and will be reintroduced if necessary despite the high costs.

Starting at once, the University Management will work closely with the recognised Trade Unions, (UNISON and UCU) and current contractors to transition staff into the University as well as work urgently to address issues that have been highlighted during the review e.g. the elimination of zero hours contracts.

 

 

London university criticised for spending £415,000 on protest security — June 4, 2018

London university criticised for spending £415,000 on protest security

The Guardian has published a story highlighting the amount of money that the University of London has spent money on security during protests in support of outsourced workers.

Below is an excerpt from the article, which is generating attention on Facebook.

 

A university has been criticised for spending more than £400,000 on extra security during student protests in support of striking outsourced workers.

Politicians, students and unions criticised the “astonishing” cost of security during protests at the University of London (UoL), which took place in support of striking outsourced workers and their calls for equal terms on conditions such as sick pay.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that the UoL would spend hundreds of thousands of pounds turning itself into a prison rather than agree to the reasonable demand of its outsourced workers to be treated fairly, equally and with respect,” said Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary at the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain.

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green party, said: “It is astonishing to see a university which failed to give workers the pay it promised spend nearly £415,134 on security for a peaceful protest.”

A freedom of information request revealed that the university spent £99,690 on extra security guards for a sit-in between 19 and 28 March. This security is believed to have been in place until 23 May.

The university said it could not confirm figures for May 2018 but that the total sum spent on additional security in March and April 2018 was £415,134.88.

Read the full story

 

 

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees — May 31, 2018

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees

Dear Board of Trustees members

I am writing as branch secretary of the University of London IWGB with regard to the campaign to bring workers in-house at the University of London.

I would like to start by apologising for not writing to the whole Board. As you probably know, it’s hard to track down contact details for all the members – please do forward this on as appropriate!

As I am sure you are aware, the IWGB represents the vast majority of outsourced workers at the University of London, and has been campaigning since September 2017 to end outsourcing and the discriminatory 2-tier workforce at Senate House.

The campaign has garnered huge press attention and popular support, most recently featured the biggest outsourced worker strike in HE history, and has resulted in the decision of the Board of Trustees (made at the 23 May meeting) to bring workers back in-house.

However, as you will see from my email below, while we welcome this decision in principle, the statement issued by Adrian Smith is extremely vague, and as a consequence has no chance of achieving the stated aims of the Board in reducing the risk of industrial action or ending disruption at the University of London.

Indeed, there is another strike planned for next Wednesday 6 June, which has already caused a major event to be moved.

What we are calling for is very straightforward – a clear statement from the University of London (similar to that made by SOAS) that outsourcing will end in 12 months or less.

Without clarity on this issue, there is no way that our members and supporters (who know that it is only their pressure that has brought the University to this decision) will end their campaign.

We will be making this letter public, so that it is quite clear how reasonable the IWGB position is – and that the ball is clearly in the University of London’s court if it wishes to end this dispute.

Best wishes

Danny

Danny Millum

Branch Secretary

University of London IWGB

 

From: Danny Millum [mailto:Danny.Millum@sas.ac.uk]
Sent: 30 May 2018 17:08
To: Chris Cobb

Dear Chris

I am writing in response to the message below from the Vice-Chancellor regarding the Board of Trustee’s decision on bringing outsourced workers in-house.

While we welcome the decision in principle expressed below, this statement will not be sufficient to end the in-house campaign at the University of London, or stop the strike action due to take place next week.

The disruption to the University’s activity will continue (I am sure that you will be aware that next week’s Down and Out event has chosen to move location in support of the workers) and the University will continue to accrue negative publicity (see today’s letter from Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley (attached) as well as numerous press articles (of which this is the latest). The situation is only likely to escalate given the extreme disappointment among workers which the VC’s statement has engendered.

I am therefore writing to clarify what is needed ‘to expedite the process to reduce the risk of industrial action as far as possible and ensure the University is not distracted or hindered from furthering its core academic mission’ – something which both we and the Board wish to see.

The current statement is much too vague with regard to contracts, timescales and even which groups will be affected.

Workers require a statement along the lines of the 4 August 2017 SOAS announcement from Baroness Amos, which made clear that outsourcing would be ended within 12 months, and all workers brought in-house house with no loss of jobs or hours.

The IWGB and its members would then be prepared to suspend the campaign, and we could move onto working together to ensure that the transition was a smooth one and beneficial to both parties.

Our position is an eminently reasonable one, and I would remind you that we remain (as I have reiterated on numerous occasions) open to direct talks to resolve this dispute.

Best wishes

Danny

Danny Millum

Branch Secretary

University of London IWGB

From: Human Resources
Sent: 24 May 2018 16:04
To: Central-University <central-university@london.ac.uk>
Subject: Message from the Vice Chancellor

Dear Colleagues

I am writing to you to update you on the discussion and decision on the Facilities Management Review that was taken at the Board of Trustees meeting yesterday afternoon. The Board accepted the recommendation from the Facilities Management Review Group that:

The University will develop an efficient provision model in which in house services are supported by contracts designed to provide both the specialist expertise and the flexibility to respond to the varying needs of the University.

However the Board raised significant concerns over the additional costs of bringing services in house and the impact on the University’s academic agenda. The Board were content to support the Review Group’s recommendations contingent on seeing more detailed plans and costs which would deliver benefits to both staff and the University together with plans for mitigating the impact on academic activities and student facing services. The Board would like the University Management to expedite the process to reduce the risk of further industrial actions as far as possible and ensure the University is not distracted or hindered from furthering its core academic mission.

The decision will mean a significant financial investment which will be linked to key strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring  security and compliance at Senate House and across our estate following heightened security risks
  • Ensuring Senate House offers a high quality experience for staff, academic activity and events
  • The development of an effective Residential Student Life programme, recognising that we need to enhance and broaden our pastoral care for residents in halls

In practical terms, these initiatives will be progressed over the next 12-18 months with some services being brought in house in 2018/19 where there is an opportunity and clear rationale for doing this although the process will be phased over subsequent years.

I would like to thank the Review Group on the thoroughness of the review and the understanding reached on an extremely complex set of issues. While the outcome may not meet everyone’s expectations, I do believe it to be reasonable, measured and deliverable.

Based in the Board’s decision, I have asked for additional security to be stepped down in the hope that the threat of student occupation is now reduced.  This will be kept under review and will be reintroduced if necessary despite the high costs.

Starting at once, the University Management will work closely with the recognised Trade Unions, (UNISON and UCU) and current contractors to transition staff into the University as well as work urgently to address issues that have been highlighted during the review e.g. the elimination of zero hours contracts.

UoL outsourced workers close to a historic victory — May 29, 2018

UoL outsourced workers close to a historic victory

Thanks to your support, last week outsourced workers at the University of London (UoL)won a massive concession, when the university announced that it would start a process to end outsourcing.

Sadly, the announcement was vague and offered no clear timeline nor commitment from the university, despite repeated demands by the IWGB for clarity and a maximum 12-month timetable for in-sourcing. Continue reading

IWGB General Secretary responds to University of London announcement — May 25, 2018

IWGB General Secretary responds to University of London announcement

Dear Professor Sir Adrian Smith,

I am writing you to share some musings on the statement you put out yesterday regarding outsourced workers (below).

For such a distinguished individual with quite the collection of titles – Vice Chancellor, Sir, Professor – the quality of writing, or lack thereof, is somewhat startling. I had to read it a few times in order to try and understand what you were saying and why- and even after that I’m a little confused. But then again, that may have been the intention.

So let me sum up what I think you’re trying to say, before going on to respond to it in rather clearer language: the University of London can’t handle anymore of the campaigning and strikes, and so whilst they’re unhappy about having to spend more money, they will bring the outsourced workers in house over the course of the next several years, with the help of the two unions on campus who have no mandate to act on behalf of the outsourced workers.

This announcement follows on the heels of seven years of campaigning around outsourced workers’ pay, terms, and conditions, and more specifically, several months of the IWGB’s Back in House Campaign, which has been calling for an immediate end to outsourcing. On the eve of the Board of Trustees’ meeting on 23 May, we even made clear that we could consider any proposal which brought workers back in house within 12 months, an incredibly generous concession on the part of the workers given how long you’ve been treating them unfairly.

Now I appreciate that you must find it frustrating to deal with the IWGB as you deem the union to be militant, radical, and uncompromising. This must be all the more frustrating when compared to your preferred method of conducting industrial relations. But whilst we may not take positions you agree with, one thing we are not is irrational.

Indeed, the mechanics of our motions and the rationality of our strategy is crystal clear and utterly coherent. When you adopt practices which are unfair, discriminatory, or exploitative, we will campaign, protest, strike, and expose you to the world. When you stop these practices, or announce you are planning to stop them with clear guarantees and within a reasonable time frame, we call off the campaigning. Simple.

You didn’t really expect over a hundred cleaners, porters, security guards, receptionists, gardeners and AV staff to call off their strike and campaign on the vague promise that at some point in the next several years they’d be brought back in house, did you? And you couldn’t possibly have expected to get favourable press coverage out of this rubbish announcement, could you? If the articles that came out within 24 hours of the announcement are anything to go by, you’re in store for quite a bit more negative press coverage in the coming weeks:

https://leftfootforward.org/2018/05/workers-win-major-concession-for-outsourced-workers-at-university-of-london/

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/4353×9/the-university-of-london-is-leaving-its-outsourced-workers-in-limbo

http://www.fm-world.co.uk/news/university-of-london-agrees-to-work-with-unions-to-take-fm-jobs-in-house/

So in sum, the ball is entirely in your court. Your first offer is rejected. If you want the industrial strife to end, make an announcement that all outsourced workers will be brought back in house, on equal terms and conditions, within the next 12 months and we will give it serious consideration.  Given that this matter has been a live issue for the past seven years, our position is more than reasonable.

Alternatively, continue to endure strikes, protests, campaigns, negative press coverage, staff malcontent, and spending exorbitant amounts of money on running UoL like a prison. If past experience is anything to go by, students, trade union branches (in particular UNISON and UCU branches from around the country), activists, politicians, and others will continue to support the workers’ cause until victory.

Best wishes,

Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
IWGB

IWGB wins major concession for outsourced workers at University of London – but campaign is still on! — May 24, 2018

IWGB wins major concession for outsourced workers at University of London – but campaign is still on!

  • Strike for 6 June to go ahead until greater clarity is given
  • University announces vague commitment to bring some services in house “where there is an opportunity and clear rationale”, without specifying which services.
  • Landmark joint-employer case will continue for time being

24 May: The University of London central administration has today announced that it will start a process to end outsourcing and bring its facilities management contracts in-house, in a major concession to the “Back in-house” campaign launched by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) in September 2017.

The announcement by the university follows the biggest strike of outsourced workers in UK-higher education history, when over 100 workers walked out on 25 and 26 April.

However, the vagueness of the statement and the lack of clarity on both the timeline and on which contracts will be brought in house means the IWGB will go ahead with the strike of around 130 outsourced cleaners, security officers, receptionists, porters, post room workers and audiovisual workers, scheduled for 6 June.

The university today announced a vague commitment to bring some services in house in 2018/19 “where there is an opportunity and clear rationale”, without specifying which services. The lack of detail on which contracts will be brought in-house and when, as well as the number of caveats in its statement gives no assurance to any of the outsourced workers as to if and when they will be made direct employees.

The IWGB also plans to continue its landmark “joint-employer” case against the University of London for the time being.

IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates that collective action and pressure works. The university has clearly understood the current situation is untenable and that they need to do something. But it also shows that the University will always try and squeeze every last penny out of its outsourced staff. Until the University of London announces the termination of all outsourcing on a reasonable timescale, IWGB will continue to campaign.”

IWGB representative and University of London cleaner Margarita Cunalata said: “We’re glad that the university has finally acknowledged our repeated demands to be given equal terms and conditions as other workers at the University. However putting us in this limbo is completely unacceptable. We will continue fighting until we are made direct employees and treated with the dignity we deserve.”

The IWGB wants to take this opportunity to thank all those that have supported the campaign, including John McDonnell MP, Laura Pidcock MP, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg.

-ENDS-

For more information:

Emiliano Mellino, press officer

07506 684 192

press@iwgb.co.uk

The University of London’s ‘Theatre of Security’ is clamping down on student dissent — May 23, 2018

The University of London’s ‘Theatre of Security’ is clamping down on student dissent

In recent months, the University of London’s Senate House has been operating like a dodgy nightclub, with extra security guards, ID-checks, bag checks and ugly security fences. A techy, unpleasant vibe has taken hold.

In an email to staff, the university’s Vice Chancellor’s Executive Group acknowledged that “Colleagues [feel] that these issues are starting to have an impact on the staff and visitors, particularly those who are used to Senate House being an open and welcoming building and also those attending events and activities.”

A lecturer at the University of London put it to me more bluntly: “People have found this very intimidating and the atmosphere is quite paranoid.”

Read the full article

 

Job opportunity at the IWGB: Membership administrator — May 18, 2018

Job opportunity at the IWGB: Membership administrator

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is looking for a part-time membership administrator to work on a temporary basis in the first instance helping maintain the union’s membership database.

The post would be for three months, 3.5 hours a week (Saturday morning), and be based in our Angel office. The rate of pay will be LLW + £1, so currently £11.20 an hour, plus generous sick pay, holiday and pension entitlement.

The post will involve:

  • entering confidential membership data onto our direct debit system
  • updating Excel spreadsheets
  • maintaining paper records
  • other related tasks including examining our current membership systems and processes and suggesting improvements

The successful candidate will:

  • be familiar with Microsoft Office
  • have experience of using databases
  • be able to handle the responsibility of handling confidential data
  • be organised and self-motivated
  • have an eye for detail and high levels of accuracy

If you are interested in applying, please contact sebastienflais@iwgb.co.uk with a short covering letter and CV. The IWGB is an equal opportunity employer, and we particularly welcome applications from black and minority ethnic candidates. The closing date for applications is Friday 25 May 2018.

IWGB members working for Deliveroo need your help today! — May 16, 2018

IWGB members working for Deliveroo need your help today!

Dear Members

I’m writing to you because together we can end “gig economy” exploitation.

As you know, Deliveroo riders are currently denied basic employment rights most of us take for granted, such as protection from discrimination, paid holidays, pensions, trade union representation and the right to be paid not less than the National Minimum Wage.

Last year we took Deliveroo to court, but lost on a technicality. Now the IWGB is seeking to appeal the judgment via Judicial Review so that riders can win back these basic rights.

To do this, we are crowd-sourcing a fighting fund that will protect the Union against costs throughout the process. We have just launched the fundraiser – and need everyone to chip in!

Will you help?

  1. Pledge whatever £ you can afford, and,
  2. Share the link (www.crowdjustice.co.uk/case/deliverjustice) online via Facebook, Twitter, email and Whatsapp to your friends, family, members, colleagues and contacts, asking them to do the same – pledge + share!

These are concrete ways to make a difference in challenging times to protect workers everywhere. By helping us in this fight, you make it harder for other employers to copy Deliveroo’s sneaky tactics and protect everyone’s rights across the UK!

We need YOU to help us #DeliverJustice!

Thank you so much,

Mags Dewhurst

Mags Dewhurst
IWGB Vice President

Fiesta de Verano / Summer Party 2018 — May 15, 2018
Summary of 20 March ICE meeting —

Summary of 20 March ICE meeting

ICE Forum report
20 March 2018
Wolfson 1, IHR

 

Introduction and apologies

Present representing University management:

Mark Newton, MD of CoSector

Mark Harrison, head of inclusion

Ghaz Alwani-Starr, director of Properties and Facilities Management (P&FM)

Reps’ Apologies: Marty (SAS), Lewis (HEE) and Angela (Finance)

(Jelony dialled in on phone)

 

Minutes from last meeting

No comments on the minutes.

Matters Arising:

  • Dignity at Work: in November 2017 policy was undertaken to be revised by April 2018, the working group was composed of MH, HR, UCU and Unison reps
    1. All new policy regarding harassment
    2. New policy regarding discipline
    3. New policy on student policy with regard to harassment
    4. A new relationship code of conduct for staff

Feedback (mostly positive, changed pronouns, extended it to HEE and CoSector) from individuals, UCU and Unison, SAS student reps and the committee fed in and policy was updated, so now awaiting final approval

student guidance will take longer for approval

DM: raised question of outsourced staff, asking if contractors will have to comply

GA-S: Yes, contractors have to adhere to the policies

TH: People need to understand that the University is going to apply this policy to past/historic situations and that needs to be communicated.

MH: Once the policies are signed off, that will be included

DM: raised question of how Stop messages work, pointing out the ambiguity in the policy and that messages can cause more difficulty in place of going straight to HR

MH: the policy is an informal route than can be taken by anyone, does not rely on Stop messages being done first; senior managers can be volunteered as dignity and respect representatives (as well as other levels), creating a number of routes for staff to decide

Joseph: Can it be shared with non-UoL employers who manage UoL staff?

CR: Yes

  • Holiday Allowances

DM: raised issue of grades and holiday leave as based on the HR-provided figures showing that gender and ethnicity are factors

MH: gaps have been identified and are indicative of this, just as with the Gender pay Gap; University recognises it is unacceptable and actions are being taken, see the Annual Report on the intranet. (It is monitored by senior management and an oversight committee)

TH: This is a historic request from unions: where can historic requests from unions be taken?

CM: staff do find it unjust and it is important issue to raise.

  • MFA

Thirteen complaints have been received, mostly from staff outside of the UK
The main worry was about the use of personal devices
Emergency overrides can be requested
Phones are available for use by those not wanting to use their own devices or who do not have their phones – available through the Service Desk

EW: The University’s handling of the launch was not great

  • Vacancies process

CR: Vacancies will remain open but HR will accept expressions of interest

TH: These vacancies need to be explained more on the Intranet to make them known

EW: there has been an expression of interest from one person in VC/HR area

  • HEE contracts

CR: this is not something the University has control over

Joseph: Asked about switching contracts when employees are promoted (from UoL onto agenda for change)

CR: Unknown

Communications

EW: read from her email sent 26 January 2018, asking not to use union tags, saying that ICE reps are individuals not union reps; these are not campaigning roles and are representing roles; representatives cannot carry out their role as they see fit; the University is not trying to limit ICE reps’ roles and are allowed to disagree when they see too much mention of unions

DM: disagrees, refers to his own email; the main issues concern what ICE representatives can do, also that staff cannot be intimidated; asked if senior managers can be advised of that. Also asked if the HR-provided mailing lists can be used by reps

CM: Questions how reps can’t carry out their roles as they see fit: there is nothing on this in the Regulations; the issue of confidentiality is only applied in certain cases. Important that staff know who to give feedback to and for staff to be kept informed; email restrictions can limit one’s role

EW: There is no preventing communicating

EM: disagree, inability to use HR-provided mailing list in all departments

TH: These are big issues, as he would like to share UCU links on pensions, as UCU has done so much work on the subject, so he is limited

MM: There was an opportunity to apply these restrictions when ICE was being formed and the University chose not to do so, so now that the restrictions are being attempted, they cannot be enforced as the time is past when they would have been agreed

JL: Agree with TH, can an accessible location for information be made?

CM: How can this be resolved? Senior managers should bring these issues up to the University for discussion in the forum not directly to representatives.

DM: There has been an example of a senior manager taking issue directly with ICE representatives.

CR: That should not be discussed here.

EW: She will talk to Simon Cain.

TH: What are the distribution lists for? Can they be used?

NO ANSWER AT THIS TIME

FM Review

GA-S: the finished staff surveys narrowed down to two options, decision postponed until May so Board of Trustees can ‘see full picture’ (postponed form March)

DM: This was a missed opportunity for the University; all workers should be brought In house for reputational reasons and there will now be more strikes in April

EW: these are huge issues, FM Steering group needs time

GA-S: the steer from the Board of Trustees meant things were limited by the bottom line

TH: He was surprised the meeting was deferred due to ‘industrial action’, restated that UCU wants everyone back in house

MM: Urgency felt now is based on the issue not being engaged with for more than a year, i.e. the University didn’t prioritise it and deferring the meeting gives the impression the University still doesn’t prioritise it

GA-S: She dealt with it as soon as she could, University doing its best, ‘we’ll continue to do the work’. Also stated that the Board of Trustees has insisted that any changes made to contracts must have no impact on the University’s bottom line.

EW: work being done now, University is committed to carrying out the work

DM: It must be resolved soon because contracts are falling apart

Asbestos management

GA-S: process is ongoing, report being distributed

DM: employees are being diagnosed with asbestos-related damage

CR: contact HR with any concerns for testing

CoSector

Mark Newton: staff meetings have resumed every 6 to 7 weeks, the newsletter has been changed, feedback has been positive; CoSector has ‘turned the corner’ financially, ‘good performance’, reduce deficit to £340k and Q1 2018 will show a small surplus, making CoSector a net contributor; this has been done by increasing prices and making some reductions

Colin: internal staff inductions and communicating role changes needs to improve; more information about people needs to circulate

UOLIA Review of QSG

Craig O’Callaghan: recommendation were accepted by staff (of reviewed teams); all changes are complete; a review of job descriptions is the next task; investment in global engagement will be reviewed after two years; the review of marketing was considered but deemed unnecessary, so no staff changes but more participation from senior staff

RD: As part of former QSG, the review was very stressful and communication was poor during the review; there was no staff support (which needs to be considered in future reviews); detrimental impact on staff attitudes toward the University

CO: the process agreed with HR was based on one individual and led to a hiatus in communicating with staff; engagement of staff was exemplary, strengthened UOLIA going forward; he was impressed by engagement

TH: now that the review is finished, it’s okay but during the review, it was stressful, lessons have been learned but it should have been handled better

RD: once in consultation, it improved but communications would have made the whole process better

AOB

  • Pensions: Elaine said it was a dispute between UUK and UCU, enough said
    1. TH: it’s about knowing where boundaries are, USS sent an email out yesterday via HR and messages on the intranet represented UUK and USS but there needs to be a balanced view (HR has the power to send to the whole university, Tim is more limited)

BK: 20 February intranet post on actions short of strike were misleading and intimidating

TH: asked HR about it

HR: could not change

CM: HR needed to do better with regard to the strike. UCL for example was clear on policy for staff not crossing picket lines. When staff here asked for clarification, UoL HR director refused to clarify. This is disrespectful of staff and unnecessary.

  • CoSector pensions: the details are all unclear but Tara will deal with the changing plans
  • Business World:

Lindsay: there has been a misconnect and no communications

CR: read latest from HR that it is still not ready

Elaine: due to staffing issues and underestimation of complexity

Next meeting is Wednesday 25 July at 2pm and may be scheduled for 2 hours.

 

 

 

 

University outsourced workers announce further industrial action after historic strike —

University outsourced workers announce further industrial action after historic strike

  • More than 100 cleaners, porters, receptionists and other outsourced workers of the University of London will strike on 6 June
  • Workers demand an end to outsourcing, an end to zero-hours and pay rises
  • Last strike and protest was attended by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Shadow Minister for Labour Laura Pidcock MP, and musician Billy Bragg.

University of London workers organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) are to go on strike on 6 June, following the biggest-ever strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history. Continue reading

Open letter: ending outsourcing at the University of London — May 4, 2018

Open letter: ending outsourcing at the University of London

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell speaking at outsourced workers strike at Senate House

 

Dear Chris

I am writing following last week’s massive strike and demonstration by outsourced workers to call on the University of London (UoL) to resolve this issue once and for all.

As you must be aware, the situation at UoL has now become untenable.

The year-long series of strikes, endless negative media and social media coverage, petitions from in-house staff and occupations by students have left the university’s reputation in tatters.

We are now at a point where the campus is on perpetual lockdown, and the university is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on additional security whose ID and bag searches are alienating staff and visitors alike. Meanwhile, outside the university gates MPs including the Shadow Chancellor line up to condemn the UoL stance.

And all of this is merely to perpetuate an obvious injustice – namely the continued discrimination in terms and conditions against one group of predominantly BME [black, minority and ethnic] staff.

As an aside, I know that one of accusation levelled against the IWGB is that it is in some way ‘extreme’ or ‘militant’.

In fact, our members’ behaviour has been consistently reasonable – how would you like it if you were given much worse terms and conditions than your in-house colleagues, ignored when you attempted to raise this issue, told that the university would talk with neither you nor your chosen representatives and then have your entirely peaceful strikes and protests policed in a completely different fashion to those of your mostly white UCU [University and College Union] colleagues?

Furthermore, I have on their behalf raised a series of issues relating to the behaviour of the outsourced companies to which the University has simply failed to respond. What other option have they been left with to have their voices heard?

As such, the university must realise that the in-house campaign will continue to intensify until all outsourced workers are brought back in house under the following conditions:

  • That this covers all 5 outsourcing companies (Aramark, Bouygues, Cordant Security, Cordant Services and Nurture)
  • That they are all brought onto exactly the same terms and conditions as all other University of London employees
  • That there are NO redundancies as part of this process
  • That there are no reductions of hours as part of this process
  • That the issue of previously promised pay differentials is resolved

Please watch this space for details of our May protest – it’s going to be a big one!

As ever, and to combat any further accusations of unreasonableness, the IWGB remains open to direct talks over the implementation of the in-house process.

Best wishes

Danny

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

Celebration agenda at IWGB’s University of London branch annual general meeting — May 2, 2018

Celebration agenda at IWGB’s University of London branch annual general meeting

Two years ago, the University of London’s branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) had less than 300 members. Now that figure has swollen to nearly 500.

It has helped fightback against the planned changes to USS pensions, won backdated increases in the London Living Wage for members, won the support of students whose fees run the university, and seen its campaign to bring outsourced workers back into the fold at the University of London (UoL) continue apace.

These major achievements were celebrated at the annual branch meeting on 28 April, by a capacity crowd which packed the lecture theatre at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in London’s Bloomsbury.

The AGM reflected the international make-up of the union at the most basic level. Conducted in English and Spanish (Spanish and English lessons are offered free of charge to all members), it demonstrated the power of unity and cohesion among its members. They include security guards, cleaners, porters, academics and academic related staff, librarians and administrators.

And it underlined the importance of establishing the strength and basic dignity of some of the most exploited union members in the capital. The people who clean up after the very executives who want to outsource them and undermine their rights. Members also include an increasing number of in-house staff who believe in fairness and inclusion at work

Speaker after speaker highlighted the ongoing campaign for basic employment rights: sickness and holiday entitlements, pensions, and most important, a future to map out with their families.

It was celebration of a highly democratic organisation that is doing something new, demanding national institutions do the same. At least an hour’s worth of ballots resulted in a refreshed line-up of officers and representatives. The new officers are as follows:

List of officers

  • Assistant Secretary – Rebecca Dooley
  • Vice Chair – Abdul Bakhsh
  • Treasurer – Lindsey Caffin
  • Second Treasurer – Alison Hunter
  • Trustees – George Orton, Frankie Cunha
  • Recruitment Officer – Liliana Chavez
  • Education Officer – Jamie Woodcock
  • Communications Officer – Maureen McTaggart
  • Campaigns Officer – Alex Gonzaga
  • Branch Secretary – Danny Millum
  • Branch Chair – Anibal Yepez

Delegates to the National IWGB AGM

  1. Catalina Punguil
  2. Joe Abdulahi
  3. Joe Trapido
  4. Margarita Cunalata
  5. Abdul Bakhsh
  6. Rebecca Dooley
  7. Rosalba Garcia
  8. Maritza Castillo Calle
  9. Jamie Woodcock
  10. Amparo Lema
  11. Amy Todd
Hundreds join IWGB outsourced workers’ protest at University of London —

Hundreds join IWGB outsourced workers’ protest at University of London

On 25 and 26 April, almost 100 outsourced workers at the University of London took strike action as part of their campaign for equal terms and conditions with directly employed staff.

The group, which included cleaners, porters, security officers, receptionists, gardeners, post-room workers and audiovisual staff, arrived at the picket line from 6am and stayed all day. They were joined on the evening of the 25th by hundreds of in-house staff, students and other supporters at a protest outside Senate House. Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, trade unionists, students and activist groups spoke at the event in a show of solidarity, and Laura Pidcock MP joined the picket line the next morning. Continue reading

Student letter of support for the outsourced workers campaign — April 24, 2018

Student letter of support for the outsourced workers campaign

Dear Directors,

We, students at the institutes of the School of Advanced Study, would like to request your support in a matter that is relevant for all of us as members of this prestigious institute and of a larger academic community.

As students at the School of Advanced Study, it is important for us to know that our school and the University of London is more than merely a place for research and teaching, and that it also aims to be involved in its community and in society in general – through events such as the Being Human festival, public lectures and consideration of opportunities to reach out to the community.

We are proud of this involvement with community and social issues, and believe a responsibility towards our most imminent community, that of university workers, is an inherent part of this approach. We are sure the School of Advanced Study and its institutes would be proud to see its graduates taking an active part in the betterment of society. We want SAS to feel that pride, and we want to be proud of our Schools and our Institutes’ true commitment to workers.

The community of SAS students includes those studying about the lives of migrants and the hardships they face, about human rights, law and social struggles. We cannot, and our institutes cannot, ignore those issues at our own home. Because we deeply care about this home, and we know you do, too.

The University of London employs a significant number of outsourced employees. We meet them every day, at the entrance to the buildings, in cleaning and providing catering for events. Those employees are currently struggling for direct employment and decent working conditions.

The IWGB is the biggest union on campus, both for outsourced and direct employees, representing over 90% of the outsourced workers at the University of London central administration.

As such, we call you, the directors of SAS institutions, to demand the IWGB will be invited to participate in the review of facilities management contracts being undertaken by the University. This is required as a step reflecting democracy, respect for workers’ rights and the basic rights to collective bargaining and free association.

We also call you as directors to demand the University of London will guarantee the review will not result in any job losses among the outsourced workers and that it will ensure that all outsourced workers, in all roles and functions, are brought in-house.

Last, we request that as directors, leaders of our prominent institutes, you will engage the SAS community in an open discussion about the social responsibility of the School of Advanced Study and the University of London towards its members, workers and larger community.

Thank you,

 

Lilija Alijeva, ICWS

Charlotte Berry, IHR

Alex Curry, ILAS

Martina Mastandrea, IES

Maayan Niezna, IALS

Daniela Zanini, IMLR

Olga Iskra, ICwS

Dean Thompson, ICwS

Ala Al-Mahaidi, ICwS

Cheryl Bellisario, ICwS

Cassandra Soderstrom, ICwS

Dallia Mitchell, ICwS

Jennifer Clancy, ICwS

Isobel Archer, ICwS

Cara Priestley, ICwS

Tanishtha Bhatia Sen Gupta, ICwS

Ellie McDonald, ICwS

Celine Denisot, ICwS

Jose Guevara, ILAS

 

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

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 —