We hope you’ve seen the email below from Kim Frost, which has confirmed that the University have finally given up their court battle against us!
We’ll obviously be checking the small print to make sure they haven’t tried to trick us again and control this process more than they should. But on the whole this is good news – it now means that we are going to get to choose our negotiating reps for the first part of the process of setting up the new forum.
We’ve been fighting hard for this in order to ensure all staff are properly represented, and to force the University to consult as widely as possible on vital issues and decisions affecting all staff.

Now we need your help!

Please could you take five minutes to:

  1. Let us know if you think what Kim is proposing is fair (e.g. two grade 6s and three grade 7s). Is there a better way of setting ‘constituencies’?
  2. Let us know if you would be up for standing for one of these positions – we need to have as many IWGB candidates as possible!
  3. Let us know if you can help out by campaigning and speaking to people once the process begins.

Any questions, let us know, and thanks as ever for your support!

Here is the email (our favourite bit is in italics):

Informing and Consulting our Staff

You may remember that around this time last year the University held a vote to ask employees to agree the appointment of employees nominated by our recognised trade unions to represent all staff in negotiating with the University over arrangements for consulting and informing staff under the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004. These regulations give employees the right, for example, to be informed about their employer’s economic situation and to be informed and consulted about issues which might affect job security.

Our current arrangements to carry out information and consultation are contained in our agreements with our recognised trade unions, UCU and Unison. However as these agreements do not extend to the relatively small number of staff in Level 10, they do not cover the whole of the University’s workforce. This meant that when, in November 2014, the University received a request from over 10% of our employees to establish information and consultation arrangements specifically under the Regulations, the University was required, notwithstanding its established arrangements with the recognised trade unions, to make arrangements for employees to appoint or elect negotiating representatives with a view to agreeing how the University would inform and consult its workforce specifically under the Regulations.

Consequently we asked staff to vote in a ballot in February 2015 on whether they wished those employees nominated by the recognised trade unions to act as their negotiating representatives for these purposes. A majority of those voting approved their appointment.

However, a member of staff made a successful complaint to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) that the process we followed did not satisfy the requirements of the Regulations. This decision was upheld on 15 January by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

I would wish to make clear that the University’s understanding, supported by external legal advice, was that the process we followed in February 2015 did meet the requirements of the Regulations. However, there was no previous case law on this aspect of the Regulations to guide our understanding. The CAC and EAT decisions have clarified these legal requirements.

Starting the Process

In light of these decisions, the University intends to start a new process through which staff will elect their negotiating representatives. These representatives will then seek to agree, with the University, the procedure under which the University will informing and consult its employees under the Regulations. This notification is therefore given for the purposes of the Information and Consultation of Employees Regulations 2004, and is issued on 26 January 2016.

Appointing Representatives to agree arrangements for informing and consulting staff
For the purposes of the election, there will be two constituencies. The first constituency will comprise all staff in Levels 1 to 6. The second constituency comprises all staff in Levels 7 and above.

Staff in Levels 1-6 will be asked to elect two representatives. Staff in Levels 7 and above will be asked to elect three representatives. The two negotiating representatives elected from the Level 1-6 constituency will represent all Level 1-6 staff. The three negotiating representatives elected from the Level 7 and above constituency will represent all staff in Level 7 and above.

Using these two constituencies will in our view ensure that each group is adequately represented in the negotiations. The number of representatives to be elected by each constituency also reflects the relative numbers of staff in each group.

Any member of staff may stand as a candidate for election to represent employees in their constituency as a negotiating representative. Candidates employed in Levels 1-6 will therefore be standing for election to represent all Level 1-6 staff. Candidates employed in Level 7 and above will be standing for election to represent all staff in Levels 7 and above.

We will be inviting staff who wish to stand for election to notify us of that by a specified deadline.

A ballot will then be held over a two week period and will be run by the Electoral Reform Society.

What will the Negotiating Representatives be asked to do?

The elected negotiating representatives will be asked to negotiate an agreement (covering all staff) with the University which will set out the issues on which the University will inform and consult its employees and how this information and consultation will be carried out.
If an agreement can be reached with all negotiating representatives, that will be the procedure which will apply going forward.

If agreement can only be reached with a majority of the negotiating representatives, the University would conduct a further ballot in which staff would be asked to vote on whether or not to adopt the agreement reached with the majority of the negotiating representatives.

Do the Representatives have a wider continuing role?

No. Their only role at this stage is to represent employees in their constituency in negotiations with the University on the content of an information and consultation agreement. Their role as negotiating representatives ceases once agreement is reached or if negotiations are unsuccessful.

Following the conclusion of these negotiations, information and consultation representatives will need to be elected or appointed and it is these representatives who would represent you going forward, receiving information from, and being consulted by, the University on your behalf. How these representatives would be elected or appointed, and their term of office, is something that will be decided in the negotiations with the negotiating representatives.

What topics are covered by Information and Consultation?

It is for the University and the negotiating representatives to agree how the University will inform and consult its staff and on what topics. However, these information and consultation arrangements typically cover issues such as the University’s activities and economic situation, the structure and development of employment within the University, as well as decisions likely to lead to substantial changes in work organisation such as large scale redundancies (unless these are being consulted on under separate legal consultation obligations).

Does this cover Negotiation with the University on Pay and Conditions?

No. The Regulations only cover information and consultation, rather than negotiation. They do not cover negotiation on pay and conditions. These will remain covered by national and local agreements with our recognised trade unions UCU and Unison.

What Is the Timescale?

By the end of January we will issue an invitation to staff to nominate themselves as candidates for election as negotiating representatives for their constituency. We expect to hold the election in March.