Despite London Weighting recently being increased for over 1000 University of London employees, 11 workers (all but one of whom are IWGB members) at the University have been denied the raise. Maintenance, AV and office staff formerly employed by the University of London, who TUPE’d on University terms and conditions in 2010 to BBW (now Cofely) and who still have a London Weighting element included on their payslips have been fighting since last summer to be included in any University-wide deal.

The response to their campaign has been nothing short of disgraceful.

They raised the issue of the LW more than six months ago. Initially Cofely tried to avoid discussing it at all. Then, when forced to by their own grievance procedure, they held a meeting with 2 of the affecetd employees – but then communicated this with UNISON, and agreed between themselves the line that formal negotiations were occurring between UNISON and Cofely, despite the fact that none of the affected staff are members of this union.

The Cofely grievance policy was then completely disregarded. Months then passed in which neither side – either the company which the staff work for, or the union which ostensibly ‘represents’ the workers – would give them any information as to the progress of these ‘negotiations’.

They were then finally invited to a meeting with Cofely on 12 June 2015, at which they were given a document entitled ‘UNISON Pay and London Weighting Claim – Response from Cofely – 09.03.2015’. This brief document concludes with the statement ‘at this point in time, it is not deemed to be a feasible option to increase the London Weighting Allowance’.

Thus having waited 8 months for a response, they were given a response which was not only totally unsatisfactory, but was three months out of date (despite having been told during those three months that negotiations were ongoing).

At no point have UNISON made any effort to contact these workers.

The workers then wrote again on several occasions to UNISON and the company, again requesting that teh former desist from negotiating terms and conditions on their behalf, and that the latter sit down to discuss their demands.

They received no response. Despite all these emails no-one, on either side, thought to tell them that unbeknownst to any affected staff a NEW meeting had now been scheduled between Cofely and UNISON in July. They had to find this out via the internet (http://unisonsenatehouse.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/cofely-update.html).

We understand that this seems far-fetched, so the correspondence (or lack thereof) is reproduced below. All they are asking for is to be able to choose their own representatives, and conduct their own negotiations.

Please do write in support of your colleagues to d.prentis@unison.co.uk and enda.nally@cofely-gdfsuez.com. All they are asking for is to be able to choose their own representatives, and conduct their own negotiations – all over a few thousand quid in total!

From: john [mailto:johnbarnett1010@hotmail.co.uk]
Sent: 24 June 2015 18:47
To: d.prentis@unison.co.uk; enda.nally@cofely-gdfsuez.com;
Cc: m.ferncombe@unison.co.uk; r.levin@unison.co.uk; l.perks@unison.co.uk; kim.frost@london.ac.uk; chris.cobb@london.ac.uk; teresa.couppledotch@cofely-gdfsuez.com; jasonmoyer-lee@iwgb.org.uk; catherinemorrissey@iwgb.org.uk
Subject: London Weighting

Dear All

I’m writing to express my astonishment and dismay that despite my previous email, which clearly established the wish of myself and affected colleagues to ourselves negotiate over our own terms and conditions (specifically with regard to London Weighting), showed that UNISON is not acting on behalf of a single member, and outlined a litany of failings with regard to process, I have not received the courtesy of a reply.

Instead, I have discovered via the Senate House UNISON website that:

Following the success of the UNISON and UCU London weighting campaign last year, UNISON has lodged a London weighting claim for the workers who were TUPE’d from University of London to BBW (now Cofely). Cofely has confirmed that this will be discussed at the meeting in July 2015.

So no-one has bothered to reply to us, and no-one had the courtesy to even tell us about this meeting. Despite the fact that it affects our terms and conditions, and has nothing to do with UNISON whatsoever.

I can only reiterate the points made in our previous email, and clarify that you have left us with no alternative but to make this correspondence public.

Best wishes

John

From: john [mailto:johnbarnett1010@hotmail.co.uk]
Sent: 24 June 2015 18:47
To: d.prentis@unison.co.uk
Cc: m.ferncombe@unison.co.uk; r.levin@unison.co.uk; l.perks@unison.co.uk
Subject: London Weighting

Dear Mr Prentis

I have a great deal of respect for the work you and your union do on behalf of their members, and so it is with some sadness that I feel forced to bring the issue below to your attention.

My colleagues and I, none of whom are in UNISON, are currently fighting for an increase in London Weighting. As you will see from the exchange below, the company we are negotiating with are refusing to talk to us, and instead insisting on negotiating with UNISON. This is very frustrating – we want to choose our own representatives, and conduct our own negotiations.

To make matters worse, the local regional officials have barely responded to our emails, and have given us no information re the meetings they have been having on our behalf. This is most distressing and insulting.

Having had no reply to our last (fairly clear) email below, we feel we have no option but to appeal to you to intervene. Our requests are below. We don’t want the union movement to suffer as a result of this correspondence becoming public, but we will have no option but to do this should we not receive a satisfactory response.

I’d be happy to meet and discuss this at any point.

Best wishes

John Barnett (see below for fellow signatories)

From: john [mailto:johnbarnett1010@hotmail.co.uk]
Sent: 24 June 2015 18:47
To: r.levin@unison.co.uk
Cc: m.ferncombe@unison.co.uk
Subject: London Weighting

Dear Ruth

Thank you for your reply below, and apologies in my turn for the delay in getting back to you – in the interim we have had a meeting on the this matter with Cofely and so I am slightly more apprised of the situation than before.

I will be writing in more length to Cofely and the University, but I wanted also to try and clarify what we are asking of you, and to take up some of your points.

  1. My colleagues and I have twice requested that you stop negotiating terms and conditions on our behalf, and that you also inform us as to what has been negotiated so far. We don’t understand why you have not addressed either of these issues in your response – how would you like it if I told your employer that it was fine to cut your holidays in half, but didn’t bother to mention it to you?
  2. This is even more bizarre because the statement finally given to us on 12 June 2015 is entitled ‘UNISON Pay and Weighting Claim – Response from Cofely – 09.03.2015’. So you have had this information since March, but when we asked you in May if you knew anything about this issue, you didn’t think to mention it?
  3. The statement refers to 13 TUPE’d employees, of which 11 still receive LW. Those 11 include the 10 names below, and a further employee who does not wish to be involved. None of these 11 are UNISON members, and so we cannot see how your statement ‘UNISON does have members who are affected by the TUPE from the University of London to Cofely and for whom London Weighting payments are an issue’ can be true.
  4. From the Cofely / UNISON Partnership Forum minutes, it can be seen that this issue was discussed in August 2014, at which point it was minuted that “AC discussed [sic] that this [London Weighting] will have a direct impact on TUPE staff”. It was discussed again in October 2014, with the issue actually being raised by AC for Cofely, thus clearly indicating that Cofely saw any LW increase for UoL staff as applying to their TUPE’d staff. The University of London continue to send payroll details to the Cofely payroll department with regard to the TUPE’d staff. The University of London agreed to a London Weighting rise for 1000 employees in January (and would have agreed to more if your union hadn’t encouraged its members to sign up to an offer without a hint of a campaign or industrial action). Given all of these arguments strengthening our position, do you really think that you have done a good job in negotiating with Cofely to secure a final offer of exactly nothing? Dare we ask what your response to this offer was?
  5. To summarise – you have no affected members, you have failed to communicate anything of your negotiations to affected staff, and you have secured no increase in London Weighting. However, you have allowed the company to string us along for 8 months, hiding behind the smokescreen of ‘consultation’ with the ‘recognised union’. Is this really what you think UNISON should be doing? Can you not see the damage this sort of approach will do to your union, which in many workplaces is a force for good?

We will be continuing to fight for our deserved increase in London Weighting, and would ask that you allow us the courtesy of not having to do so with one hand tied behind our backs. We are therefore requesting that you write to ourselves and Cofely confirming that you will play no further part in these negotiations, and instruct them to deal directly with the affected workers and their chosen representatives.

Best wishes

John Barnett

Denise Baines

Alex Carrasco

Jason Dwyer

Dennis Frampton

James Hammond

Neil Holmes

Adam McTaggart

John O’Flaherty

Kim Rees

From: R.Levin@unison.co.uk
To: johnbarnett1010@hotmail.co.uk
Subject: RE: London Weighting
Date: Thu, 28 May 2015 08:46:50 +0000

Dear John

Thank you for your email below and apologies for the delay in responding to you.

UNISON does have members who are affected by the TUPE from the University of London to Cofely and for whom London Weighting payments are an issue.

In addition to this, as the recognised trade union, it is important that we are ensuring that terms and conditions of employment are preserved and improved upon particularly in a TUPE situation. Raising London Weighting follows on from what has recently been negotiated with the University of London. Following up on agreements negotiated after a TUPE is standard practice across different UNISON sectors. Our members are involved in regular communications with UNISON.

Yours sincerely,

Ruth levin

From: john [mailto:johnbarnett1010@hotmail.co.uk]
Sent: 07 May 2015 17:05
To: Levin, Ruth
Cc: andy.combe@cofely-gdfsuez.com; Teresa Couppleditch; enda.nally@cofely-gdfsuez.com; kim.frost@london.ac.uk; catherinemorrissey@iwgb.org.uk; chris.cobb@london.ac.uk
Subject: London Weighting

Dear Ms Levin

My name is John Barnett, and I work for Cofely at the University of London, as part of the maintenance team.

Myself and various colleagues were formally directly employed by the University, but were TUPE’d to Cofely’s previous incarnation, BBW, in 2010. As such, we retain our University terms and conditions, including London Weighting.

We have recently been negotiating via our union, the IWGB, with Cofely for an increase in our London Weighting allowance, but have been told by the company that as this issue has ‘now been formally raised through UNISON, we have commenced our negotiations and discussions directly with them’.

None of us are members of UNISON, and we are extremely concerned that an external organisation we have no connection with is negotiating over our terms and conditions.

Furthermore, we have received no indication from UNISON that these negotiations have been going on, and no information as to what is being discussed and potentially agreed on our behalf.

We do not wish UNISON to be involved in any way, nor have we given any permission for them to be so.

Could you please do the following:

  1.       Confirm whether this is indeed the case.
  2.       Provide for us for details of any negotiations and discussions that have been conducted over this issue.
  3.       Confirm to ourselves and to Cofely that you will immediately cease to play any part in these negotiations, a part for which you have no mandate or permission from the employees involved

I and my colleagues are extremely distressed over this issue, whereby it appears that extremely important decisions relating to our employment are being taken behind our backs, and want it resolved immediately so that we and our chosen representatives can  conduct our own negotiations.

Please do let me know if I should be contacting someone else within your organisation regarding this.

Best wishes

John Barnett

Denise Baines

Alex Carrasco

Jason Dwyer

Dennis Frampton

James Hammond

Neil Holmes

Adam McTaggart

John O’Flaherty

Kim Rees

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