See below for our latest letter. Some of these questions were addressed today in the All-Staff Meeting, in which it was revealed that:
- Two members of the Senior Management Team were leaving and would not be replaced
- That the new branding would be a combination of CoSector and the University of London, depending on context
Make of that what you will!
Dear Sir Richard
I am writing again to the Board of Trustees with regard to the ongoing issue of CoSector, and to pass on continuing serious concerns regarding its direction.
The laast time I wrote, in January (see below), the CoSector CEO had just stepped down, and a new business plan was being formulated.
At the last Board of Trustees meeting (January) for which minutes are available, they state that:
‘A member of the Board commented on an email she had received from a member of staff, relating to CoSector, which had been circulated to the Board, and sought assurance in relation to a number of issues.’
However, more than six months later, the concerns expressed in this previous email have not been addressed – no investigation has been commissioned, no new processes have been put in place, and no guarantees that future plans will receive a full independent risk assessment have been given.
- although a business plan has been produced, it has not been adequately explained or promoted, and so many staff continue to feel unclear as to the future direction of the department
- there is a clear disconnect between the leadership team and those managing the department’s various services
- there is a sense that the department as a whole remains extremely top-heavy, and there are too many leadership positions whose roles are extremely unclearly defined
- processes, for instance for setting up new systems, are not necessarily being properly followed
- no clear decision has been regarding branding – whether to continue to use the University of London brand, or to rebrand completely as CoSector
- the CoSector website will not be operational until August
Most alarmingly, for a development whose main justification was that it would generate profits, CoSector is predicted to make a loss of £1.6m this year, and a further loss the following year, even taking into account extremely optimistic new business generation forecasts.
In conclusion, there are still two sets of concerns – with the operation of the CoSector project, and with the lack of accountability of those responsible for it. The Board of Trustees is called upon to immediately institute a whole-scale independent investigation in order to protect jobs and safeguard the business in the long term.
Below is my January email
Dear Sir Richard
I am writing again to the Board of Trustees with regard to the ongoing issue of Co-Sector, which I understand is to be discussed at your January meeting, since this comes within the Board’s to exercise ‘guardianship over the University’s assets and resources, and ensure their effective management, control and use’.
As you know, since I last wrote to you, the CoSector CEO has departed, and a new business plan is being formulated.
However, though it appears that previous plans are being scaled back, there are still a number of extremely serious issues which need to be addressed, and upon which information has not been provided.
I hope the Board will agree with the suggestion that it should:
- Commission an investigation into how much has been spent on the Shared Services / CoSector project since its inception in 2013 and to ascertain why, in 2016, a business plan has not yet been produced.
- Put in place processes to ensure that future projects are undertaken with due diligence and proper oversight.
- Avoid a repetition of the problems that have dogged CoSector by mandating that any future plan be subject to a full risk assessment, and the business case be independently assessed.
- Provide categorical assurances to staff as to their employment status. Staff have been cavalierly treated in this regard, being told:
- In January 2014 – that they may be TUPE’d to a new organisation
- In September 2014 – that ‘the Shared Services business unit will be a department of the university’
- In July 2015 – that they will be seconded to CoSector
- In December 2015 – that ‘any change of terms and conditions was not proposed by the University at this stage’.
This approach has greatly undermined confidence in the employer, has been extremely stressful and demotivating for staff, and needs to be properly addressed immediately.
Please could you acknowledge receipt of this email, and confirm that these issues will be raised at the January meeting?
I have sought to keep this relatively brief, but should you require more information about this lengthy process please do not hesitate to ask.
Treasurer, Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB).