The IWGB has been in touch with the University over the ongoing leak at Stewart House reception, to flag up concerns raised by members of potential health and safety implications.
We received the following response today:
Having made enquiries I understand our maintenance teams have found a toilet had been blocked with what looks like clothing fabric jammed further down the soil stack causing the leak. Whilst Bouygues await their specialist drain maintenance company the leak has stopped having been made safe. Cordant have a cleaner attending every half hour.
We will be holding an organising meeting for all security officers working for CIS on Saturday 28 April at 1pm at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (17 Russell Square – see map here).
This will be:
a chance to meet the IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee and President Henry Chango Lopez and find out more about the union
a chance to raise any issues and ask any questions
a chance to elect reps for the CIS section of the branch, and plan how to recruit and organise your colleagues
The meeting will take place just before our branch AGM, in the same place, where you will get a chance to meet other members from across the University of London and hear all about what the branch has been doing for the last year!
If you are serious about wanting to improve conditions at UCL, you need to come to this meeting!
Todo lo que tienes que hacer es presentarte ese mismo día. Si hay más de un candidato/a, pediremos que hagáis un pequeño discurso a ambos/as y luego se hará una votación a mano alzada. Si hay más de un candidato/a para secretario/a de la rama o presidente/a, tenemos que tener una votación postal, ya que son posiciones nacionales.
All you need to do is to put yourself forward on the day. If there’s more than one candidate, we’ll ask for a short statement from both and then have a show of hands. If there’s more than one candidate for branch secretary or chair, we need to have a postal ballot, as they are national positions.
Please do come along if you can – it’s a good chance to get a full update on where we are now AND to ask any questions about what happens next!
I am also including his response (below) to the absurd USS email earlier this week – feel free to get back to me with any queries!
You’ve no doubt seen the email from USS which can only be taken as an attempt to undermine the valid reasons why we’ve been striking and ignores why we’ve had to reject the agreement proposed earlier last week. In short, they’ve cherry-picked three of a mountain of issues and claimed fake news because of technicalities.
I will be contacting you later in the week but I just wanted to let you know that this message changes absolutely nothing. I don’t think I can put it better than the Governing Body of The Queen’s College, Oxford:
“The proposed agreement appears to have been negotiated within the constraints imposed by the recent valuation of the scheme’s deficit. To that extent, many will view it as akin to a rearrangement of deck-chairs on the Titanic. We welcome UUK’s efforts to establish an independent group to examine the valuation, and we also note the CEO of USS Ltd’s very recent comments on the funding position. He is undoubtedly correct to suggest that some aspects of the trustee’s position have been misunderstood; however, we nevertheless think there are legitimate concerns about the logic of the trustee’s ‘test 1’. These concerns are contributing to a widespread loss of confidence in the valuation, and there is a growing suspicion that the legislation in this area may be broken. We are certainly not convinced that a triennial valuation cycle, leading to what are now perceived as depressingly regular benefit reforms, is in anyone’s interests.
We thus take the view that both UUK and USS are vulnerable to the criticism of approaching the current challenge the wrong way round: that is, it seems odd to contemplate such substantial benefit reform now when the calculation of the scheme’s deficit is the subject of legitimate enquiry and controversy. While we appreciate that the statutory deadline associated with the valuation is very near, we would hope that the Pensions Regulator might be pragmatic in its approach to the difficulties that have been encountered. Otherwise we face a potentially very damaging outcome that will be quite contrary to the interests of all parties, and manifestly at odds with the public policy considerations that underpin the relevant legislation.”
All we’re saying is that UUK and USS had an opportunity to properly address the scheme this time around and they chose to squander it with frankly unscrupulous practices around surveying universities for questionable intentions to manufacture a result that would enforce this draconian measure on the quality of our retirement.
Please forgive me for my angry tone (angry for me, anyway) but there have been an good number of your colleagues who’ve sacrificed a lot to get the truth out.
This is just a quick summary of the position following the end of the first wave of strikes.
What did the strikes achieve?
It’s important to remember that before the strike action began, we were told that not only were these massive cuts to our pensions inevitable, but that no further negotiations would take place. Defined benefit was dead.
That position has been completely overturned – the employers (via Universities UK) have been forced to return to talks, and to make an offer which retained a defined benefit component.
Furthermore, rather than turning against staff, students have been totally supportive, taking part in demos, pickets, marches and occupations which have hugely helpful in the the campaign.
Role of IWGB members
Your contribution at Senate House has been absolutely crucial – many IWGB members refused to cross the picket line for 14 days and instead stood along their UCU colleagues. Many more took action on some of these days. This included members who are not in USS, acting in solidarity with their colleagues and in recognition that SAUL will be next! Everyone has done what they can – it’s been a really heartwarming experience to be part of the strike and we want to thank everyone who has taken part.
It’s also been a pleasure to support the revitalised Senate House UCU branch – check out their blog here for some really insightful write-ups.
Why was the offer rejected?
This offer would still have left us far worse off – contributions would have risen, the protection against inflation would have been reduced, accruals would be 1/85 rather than 1/75, the ceiling for DB would have fallen to £42K and the direction of travel would have been towards getting rid of DB next time around.
The fact that the deal also seemed to commit staff to rescheduling lectures didn’t go down well either…
However, in addition to this during the strikes something important had happened – staff had started researching the overall pension position, and it had become clear that it was not a question of negotiating over how to plug the deficit, but rather demonstrating that the very idea of a deficit was down to the extremely flawed November 2017 valuation of USS.
It was therefore pointless to start from these false premises – instead, we needed to return to the September 2017 valuation, which showed the scheme to be perfectly healthy, and would save both employers and employees money!
The strike has also thrown up a whole host of questions as too how our universities are run, the excessive role of marketisation, the absurd administrative burdens placed on frontline staff by unaccountable senior management and a general feeling that an entire change of ethos is required.
What will happen next?
UCU have called for 14 more days of strike action in April and May, to be chosen at a local level. As soon as we have those dates we will let you know more – again, your participation will be crucial!
In the meantime, talks between UCU and UUK are likely to resume, and in addition discussions are going on over a new ‘independent’ valuation of USS – we’ll try and keep you posted!
Oh – and thanks to pressure from Senate House UCU strike deductions will now be made over 4 months! If you have any questions about this OR have any issues with HR or management please email firstname.lastname@example.org!
The next meeting of the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) forum will be on 20 March 2018, and as your representatives we want to let you know what’s on the agenda and to ask if there’s anything else that you would like raising.
Please let us (email@example.com) know by Wednesday 14 March (apologies for the short notice, but the strikes have been pretty disruptive in terms of communications!) if there’s anything you’d like adding – or just feel free to get in touch!
Just a quick update as we move into week 4 of the strikes!
Talks between UCU and UUK will resume on Monday – UCU say:
‘There has been constructive engagement and progress on the challenging issues in the dispute. Talks will continue on Monday, although both sides will be working over the weekend. For the avoidance of doubt, the strikes remain on.’
32 universities have now come out in support of maintaining the defined benefit scheme / accepting a higher level of risk, including Oxford and Cambridge.