Dear Professor Sir Adrian Smith,

Please do forgive me for the delay- on Wednesday you put out a new statement with the University of London’s position on outsourcing (below), and I’ve only just now had the opportunity to write you to tell you how useless it is.

But first let’s start on a positive note: like any piece of writing, the second draft is much better than the first. However, given that the first draft was so rambling and incoherent as to render it virtually meaningless, the bar was set at an admittedly low level. I reckon we’ll be there by the third or fourth draft.

You make a point of referring to the “25 IWGB strikers picketing outside Senate House.” I must say this does cause me some concern. And I’m not talking about the contemptuous nature in which you dismiss the legitimacy of your outsourced staff’s grievances, I’m talking more about your ability to count.

Given that one of your main reasons for delaying the inevitable insourcing is budgetary pressures, I do wonder if those budgetary pressures might evaporate when analysed by someone who knows how to add? Perhaps you’d like to delegate this function, but it’s never too late to acquire new skills so if you do want to take a stab at it yourself, you might find this book of some assistance: Basic Maths for Dummies. Just make sure to have it delivered on a day when your postroom staff are not on strike!

I’m sorry you find it frustrating that the IWGB continues to strike despite UoL’s commitment that it would bring services in house “where there is a fit with strategic priorities”. But I do think this rather betrays a lack of sympathy on your part.

Imagine if when you were offered the role of Vice-Chancellor, instead of UoL committing to pay you the astronomical £175,307 salary you currently earn they’d said: “Adrian, we’ll pay you £50K per year and then increase it to £175,307 where there is a fit with strategic priorities”, something tells me I’d be writing to a different VC right now!

I also note the usual trademarks of self-congratulatory praise and the attribution of credit for any progress made to UNISON and UCU. This time you’ve even managed to fit both in one sentence – I guess practice makes perfect!

I have to say though, I am surprised to see you express the belief that protests, industrial action, etc. will continue regardless of any decision UoL might make on outsourcing. This is all the more surprising given we have stated our position in this regard ad nauseum.

But out of sympathy for your struggles with numeracy, and in light of your apparent difficulties with literacy as well, I’ll state the position one more time: the IWGB will continue campaigning until there is a commitment that all outsourced workers will be brought back in house in 12 months or less. So, when you fail to commit to bringing workers in house in that time frame the campaign continues. Professor, you really don’t need a PhD to understand the logic of this one.

On a serious note, I think we can all agree that the UoL is currently in total meltdown. Industrial strife, protests, strikes, student occupations, a slew of extremely negative national press coverage, public criticism from national politicians, a security lock down rendering basic health and safety protections non-existent, a reputation being dragged through the mud, and more.

And despite all that UoL still refuses to negotiate with the IWGB and accede to its outsourced workers’ reasonable demands. Something tells me there must be a better way of doing things.

Best wishes,

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary


Statement from University of London’s Vice-Chancellor setting out the university’s position on outsourcing

Dear colleagues,​

As you will have seen and heard, we currently have about 25 IWGB strikers picketing outside Senate House together with 7 students protesting inside the building.

It is very disappointing that the IWGB are continuing to disrupt the University’s operations, particularly after the Board of Trustees’ decision to bring services in-house where there is a fit with strategic priorities. The University together with UCU and Unison fought very hard to achieve this breakthrough decision despite concerns from the Board that the additional costs could impact the delivery of the University’s academic mission. The continued protests reinforce the belief expressed by the Board that bringing services in-house will not eliminate continued disruption and the resulting high costs.

The recent additional security provided by the current contract has prevented five further occupations but at a cost in excess of £400k. Today’s student occupation follows a reduction in the level of security and consequently arrangements are being reconsidered again. This additional cost will inevitably impact the University’s budget.

Having reached its decision, the Board of Trustees requested that the University brings forward detailed plans as quickly as possible. It is anticipated that some services will be brought in-house within the 2018/19 academic year. In addition it can now be confirmed that zero hour contracts will be eliminated by the end of the summer. Nevertheless there remain concerns that making changes too quickly carries logistical, contractual and financial risks, and therefore the University will not commit to unrealistic and undeliverable timeframes.