IWGB President Jason Moyer-Lee has sent the following response to UCU, Unison and the University in the aftermath of the not-too-surprising Yes vote to elect four UCU/Unison members to represent all University staff in consultations with senior management.
In the email, Jason tackles the unions’ attack on IWGB Branch Secretary Catherine Morrissey, a tactic showing the sheer lengths these organisations will go to in order to maintain their close relations with powers that be.
Dear UCU and UNISON reps, officials, and bureaucrats
I am writing you, first and foremost, to congratulate you on your recent merger with the University of London HR department. These must be exciting times for your organisations! Indeed, as a fellow trade unionist, I must admit I am a bit envious of the new communications infrastructure that has come out of this merger. You see, when the IWGB wants to communicate with members and supporters we do so using the emails and phone numbers they have provided us with. When UNISON and UCU want to communicate with the entire University of London staff body you just get Kim Frost to send the email for you. I can understand why he does this though. After all, what’s good for UNISON and UCU at Senate House is also good for HR.
By way of this congratulations letter, I would like to comment on an email that you sent on 30 January, 2015, in which you attacked Catherine Morrissey, the IWGB University of London Branch Secretary, for her efforts regarding the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) arrangements at UoL. For your records, this email can be seen below. Before I delve into the details, I must say that the tone and content of your letter does take a lot of gall considering that between the lot of you there isn’t a single achievement you can point to in the past three years of “activism” at the University of London.
You say in your email that “UNISON and UCU work hard to ensure that all staff are represented and we welcome more staff joining and getting involved.” Quite clearly you haven’t read the article that came out in the Guardian in March of last year. For your benefit, here’s the link: http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/mar/24/cost-private-contracts-universities-documents-services-workers. You might also be interested in a follow up article in the Observer: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/21/immigrants-taken-to-cleaners-living-london-wage. As you can see in these articles, far from working hard to represent everyone, UNISON was actually working hard to sell out the outsourced workers at the University of London and invalidate their elections. Indeed- and this part is hard to believe- UNISON even suggested to the University of London that if the University were to offer up one additional day of annual leave that it might undercut the 3 Cosas Campaign, which was fighting for public sector terms and conditions! And don’t forget the classic UNISON blunder of appointing Sharon Bracey, the Cofely Cleaning Services Manager who has been taken to an employment tribunal on allegations of maternity discrimination twice in two years, as rep for Cofely workers.
What is most curious about your email is that you say that your reps are democratically elected and in the same breath that Catherine Morrissey is dishonest and anti-trade union. Given that the email was sent by three unelected UCU officials, one could be forgiven for thinking the accusation of Catherine being dishonest is a bit misplaced. However, what’s even more ironic is that Catherine’s leadership has been put to the test of the ballot box various times, and each time she has won election. Indeed she ran for Branch Secretary and Education Officer at UNISON. My hunch is that she won, but as UNISON invalidated the election we can’t be too sure. But she was then elected unanimously as Education Officer at the IWGB, and the following year she was again elected unanimously Branch Secretary. You say that Catherine is anti-trade union, however the uncomfortable reality is that Catherine does more to promote the interests of workers at the University of London in one week than the lot of you in one year. I also can’t help but point out the blindingly obvious fact that if workers at the University of London felt that UNISON and UCU were doing their jobs then we wouldn’t have obtained signatures from over 10% of the workforce for the ICE agreement in just a matter of days.
In closing, I would point out that I wholeheartedly agree with your statement that unions have fought for generations to improve members’ working lives. Where I think you were perhaps a bit dishonest is to imply that you have had anything to do with that struggle.
As we now proceed to make a legal challenge to your recent coronation by the University of London HR department, no doubt we shall be discussing these ICE regulations once again in the very near future.
Until then, kind regards,
” From: Esmilda Yates
Sent: 30 January 2015 11:11
To: Esmilda Yates
Cc: Barry Jones; Andrew Young
Subject: Important: Please read – All Staff Ballot – VOTE YES
Please pass this onto colleagues in your department
UNISON and UCU together are the recognised trades’ unions at Senate House, University of London. Our recognition agreement provides for a full range of information, consultation and negotiation. UNISON and UCU work hard to ensure that all staff are represented and we welcome more staff joining and getting involved. If you are not currently a member of UCU or UNISON, or you know somebody who isn’t, and you (or they) would like to maximise your ability to influence conditions at University of London, please join the appropriate union.
Our representatives are democratically elected, trained and supported by the wider union – an ICE forum would have no such support and backing. We are national unions that provide specific support to those working in higher education – in UCU and UNISON you having the backing of huge organisations with all the support and solidarity that this provides.
Vote YES for the four representatives who will meet with the University to negotiate the broadening and improvement of the recognition agreement to ensure its in full compliance with the ICE regulations.
Some of you may have received an e-mail from Catherine Morrissey. As the IWGB Branch Secretary, we are surprised that she is, in effect, arguing for non trade union members to have an active role in industrial relations at the University of London! This dishonest anti-trade union position is solely aimed at disrupting and undermining the established consultation arrangements at the University.
There is no need to have two information and consultation forums as Catherine has suggested – this would lead to confusion and conflict and play directly into the employer’s hands.
Unions have fought for generations for the right to be informed and consulted and to improve our members’ working lives. We don’t want the hard work of union activists to be undone by those calling for a non-union forum.
Please VOTE YES.
Sent from the UCU London Regional Office on behalf of the UCU Senate House branch”