At our branch meeting last Friday, we discussed the ongoing plans for CoSector, described on the University of London intranet as follows:
CoSector Ltd currently delivers products and services across HE and FE in Careers, Housing and IT.
We are a new arm’s length company formed by the University of London. Our aim is to continue to provide high quality services to our existing partners and customers, alongside growing existing and new business generating a 10% profit within 3-5 years which will be returned to our shareholder, the University of London.
Despite last year’s assurances from Chris Cobb that such a company was not envisaged, it is now clear that the University is pressing ahead with plans to merge its Careers, Housing and ULCC departments into CoSector (see company registration details here). This is despite:
- staff repeatedly voicing their opposition to these developments
- the costings provided being viewed as optimistic, with many querying where the additional business is to come from to pay for not just these vast projected profits, but the substantial outlay on new senior managers that has already been made
- concerns that existing business with the colleges, who are happy dealing with the University of London, may be jeopardised
- arrangements for current staff being unclear, but currently planned to involve ‘secondments’ to the new company
- new staff to be taken on on CoSector terms and conditions and to be outside the USS / SAUL pension schemes, leading to the immediate creation of a 2-tier workforce
- the possibility that the UoL would be infringing the covenant for solely education use under which they hold Senate House
- proposals not being put to the Board of Trustees OR unions until October – while new CoSector appointments are due to begin work in September
The IWGB resolved to oppose any proposals which involved the de facto privatisation of UoL departments, to call for a halt to this process, and for any future model to retain all staff past and present as UoL employees.
The next stage will be an All-Staff Meeting on 30 July devoted to CoSector. We will be in attendance, and be submitting further questions. The plan following this meeting (if, as expected, it confirms that CoSector is to go ahead as described above) will be to start building all-staff campaign to oppose these plans, and to circulate a petition to gather support among affected individuals
See here for our initial correspondence with Chris Cobb (University of London Chief Operating Officer) and Anthony Kemp (CEO, CoSector). As ever, email us at email@example.com with any thoughts, schemes, plans or suggestions.