Three University of London inter-collegiate halls of residence – the Garden Halls – are to be closed down this summer. Over 80 employees of the University of London’s subcontractors- Cofely and Armark- are at risk of redundancy. The University of London’s plans to refurbish the Garden Halls have been known for some time yet little effort has been made to re-allocate workers and prevent redundancies. Roughly one year ago the IWGB- which represents the majority of the Garden Halls outsourced workers- asked that Cofely transfer Garden Halls workers to arising vacancies throughout the University of London contract in order to minimise redundancies. It was suggested that temporary employment contracts be issued to people replacing the Garden Halls workers. This proposal represented a logical and common sense method of reducing potential redundancies. Cofely refused to oblige, instead saying that all new vacancies would be advertised at the halls so Garden Halls workers could apply. Only 2 out of potentially over 15 of these vacancies were advertised at the Garden Halls.
Throughout the Garden Halls redundancy procedures, both Aramark and Cofely have refused to consult with the IWGB. Cofely has even been consulting with UNISON, despite the fact that most of the workers have left UNISON in disgust, have asked Cofely not to deal with them over the redundancies, and the Cleaning Services Manager is the UNISON rep. As a result of the impending redundancies the IWGB has declared five days of industrial action. The IWGB has offered, on numerous occasions, to meet with the employers at ACAS and find a negotiated solution to the dispute. Our offer is also open to the University of London, who would likely foot the bill for any increased redundancy payments. Our offers for negotiations have been repeatedly rejected. It is a most unfortunate situation that the University of London, Cofely, and Aramark would rather see five days of industrial action than concede anything more than the absolute and statutory minimum for workers who have served the University of London for years.