Dear Board of Trustees members
I am writing as branch secretary of the University of London IWGB with regard to the campaign to bring workers in-house at the University of London.
I would like to start by apologising for not writing to the whole Board. As you probably know, it’s hard to track down contact details for all the members – please do forward this on as appropriate!
As I am sure you are aware, the IWGB represents the vast majority of outsourced workers at the University of London, and has been campaigning since September 2017 to end outsourcing and the discriminatory 2-tier workforce at Senate House.
The campaign has garnered huge press attention and popular support, most recently featured the biggest outsourced worker strike in HE history, and has resulted in the decision of the Board of Trustees (made at the 23 May meeting) to bring workers back in-house.
However, as you will see from my email below, while we welcome this decision in principle, the statement issued by Adrian Smith is extremely vague, and as a consequence has no chance of achieving the stated aims of the Board in reducing the risk of industrial action or ending disruption at the University of London.
Indeed, there is another strike planned for next Wednesday 6 June, which has already caused a major event to be moved.
What we are calling for is very straightforward – a clear statement from the University of London (similar to that made by SOAS) that outsourcing will end in 12 months or less.
Without clarity on this issue, there is no way that our members and supporters (who know that it is only their pressure that has brought the University to this decision) will end their campaign.
We will be making this letter public, so that it is quite clear how reasonable the IWGB position is – and that the ball is clearly in the University of London’s court if it wishes to end this dispute.
University of London IWGB
From: Danny Millum [mailto:Danny.Millum@sas.ac.uk]
Sent: 30 May 2018 17:08
To: Chris Cobb
I am writing in response to the message below from the Vice-Chancellor regarding the Board of Trustee’s decision on bringing outsourced workers in-house.
While we welcome the decision in principle expressed below, this statement will not be sufficient to end the in-house campaign at the University of London, or stop the strike action due to take place next week.
The disruption to the University’s activity will continue (I am sure that you will be aware that next week’s Down and Out event has chosen to move location in support of the workers) and the University will continue to accrue negative publicity (see today’s letter from Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley (attached) as well as numerous press articles (of which this is the latest). The situation is only likely to escalate given the extreme disappointment among workers which the VC’s statement has engendered.
I am therefore writing to clarify what is needed ‘to expedite the process to reduce the risk of industrial action as far as possible and ensure the University is not distracted or hindered from furthering its core academic mission’ – something which both we and the Board wish to see.
The current statement is much too vague with regard to contracts, timescales and even which groups will be affected.
Workers require a statement along the lines of the 4 August 2017 SOAS announcement from Baroness Amos, which made clear that outsourcing would be ended within 12 months, and all workers brought in-house house with no loss of jobs or hours.
The IWGB and its members would then be prepared to suspend the campaign, and we could move onto working together to ensure that the transition was a smooth one and beneficial to both parties.
Our position is an eminently reasonable one, and I would remind you that we remain (as I have reiterated on numerous occasions) open to direct talks to resolve this dispute.
University of London IWGB
From: Human Resources
Sent: 24 May 2018 16:04
To: Central-University <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Message from the Vice Chancellor
I am writing to you to update you on the discussion and decision on the Facilities Management Review that was taken at the Board of Trustees meeting yesterday afternoon. The Board accepted the recommendation from the Facilities Management Review Group that:
The University will develop an efficient provision model in which in house services are supported by contracts designed to provide both the specialist expertise and the flexibility to respond to the varying needs of the University.
However the Board raised significant concerns over the additional costs of bringing services in house and the impact on the University’s academic agenda. The Board were content to support the Review Group’s recommendations contingent on seeing more detailed plans and costs which would deliver benefits to both staff and the University together with plans for mitigating the impact on academic activities and student facing services. The Board would like the University Management to expedite the process to reduce the risk of further industrial actions as far as possible and ensure the University is not distracted or hindered from furthering its core academic mission.
The decision will mean a significant financial investment which will be linked to key strategic initiatives:
- Ensuring security and compliance at Senate House and across our estate following heightened security risks
- Ensuring Senate House offers a high quality experience for staff, academic activity and events
- The development of an effective Residential Student Life programme, recognising that we need to enhance and broaden our pastoral care for residents in halls
In practical terms, these initiatives will be progressed over the next 12-18 months with some services being brought in house in 2018/19 where there is an opportunity and clear rationale for doing this although the process will be phased over subsequent years.
I would like to thank the Review Group on the thoroughness of the review and the understanding reached on an extremely complex set of issues. While the outcome may not meet everyone’s expectations, I do believe it to be reasonable, measured and deliverable.
Based in the Board’s decision, I have asked for additional security to be stepped down in the hope that the threat of student occupation is now reduced. This will be kept under review and will be reintroduced if necessary despite the high costs.
Starting at once, the University Management will work closely with the recognised Trade Unions, (UNISON and UCU) and current contractors to transition staff into the University as well as work urgently to address issues that have been highlighted during the review e.g. the elimination of zero hours contracts.