BREAKING NEWS: Outsourced workers closing in on victory at the University Of London — January 18, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Outsourced workers closing in on victory at the University Of London

We heard back yesterday from the University of London, who are currently conducting a review of all of their outsourced services.

They announced that they have narrowed down the options they will present to the Board of Trustees from seven to two.

The 2 options are:

  1. MIXED ECONOMY –  bring some of the contracts in-house
  2. FULLY IN-HOUSE – bring all of the contracts in house!

This is another massive step forward for the campaign – since it began in September last year the University of London has completely shifted its position, from being committed to maintaining the status quo of contracting out all its soft and hard services to being on the verge of bringing everyone back in house!

The University will be surveying all staff in Feb, and then a final decision on which of these options to pursue will be taken in March by the BoT.

The IWGB’s position remains the same – the campaign will not stop until ALL WORKERS ARE BACK IN HOUSE!

The next strike and protest will be Thursday 25 January (https://www.facebook.com/events/391189084639287) – please come and help keep up the pressure until the University finally agrees to treat all its staff equally!

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John McDonnell to speak at USS pension meeting tonight – 7pm at UCL — January 17, 2018

John McDonnell to speak at USS pension meeting tonight – 7pm at UCL

Everyone should come down to this if they can! If you want to come and don’t know where it is text Danny on 07783719479.

UCU London Region Public Rally

Defend Education – Stand up for Pensions and Pay
Wednesday 17 January, 7pm
Cruciform Lecture Theatre 1
Cruciform Building
Gower Street

Speakers: Sally Hunt (UCU General Secretary), John McDonnell MP, Rachel Cohen (City University, UCU NEC), Sean Vernell (City and Islington FE, UCU NEC), Carrie Benjamin (SOAS), and others

Organised by UCU London Region. Open to all.

University of London in-house campaign – next protest and strike 25 January 2018! — January 10, 2018

University of London in-house campaign – next protest and strike 25 January 2018!

WhatsApp Image 2018-01-10 at 09.25.11Join us on 25 January at 6pm as we protest outside the University of London’s Senate House and demand that the University put an end to its discriminatory employment practices. Security officers and receptionists will be on strike, with a picket line from 2pm.

That same day the University of London will be hosting the UK’s largest postgraduate fair, where together with many other universities, it will be marketing the courses for which it charges thousands of pounds a year. While students pay thousands of pounds to attend these universities, many of the staff are systematically discriminated against. Meanwhile university vice-chancellors and other top management keep on receiving inflation-busting pay rises.

The campaign has received the support of the shadow chancellor John McDonnell MP, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley, campaigning groups, student unions and trade unions.

Donate to the strike fund here:
https://www.crowdpac.co.uk/campaigns/1870/the-independent-workers-union-of-great-britain

For more information contact emilianomellino@iwgb.co.uk.

Senate House Library workshop – free places for IWGB members —

Senate House Library workshop – free places for IWGB members

Workshop at Senate House Library: THE LIBRARY EXAMINED

We are getting in touch to let you know about a free workshop taking place at Senate House Library on Saturday 27th January 2017 with OOMK http://oomk.net/about.html and Thick/er Black Lines. More information below.

We hope this is something that IWGB members, especially those not already library members, might be interested in and we would like to offer 4 places to the union (the workshop will have 12 participants in total).

There will also be a book launch for an OOMK publication the same evening, to which workshop attendees are also invited.

We are really excited about this workshop and would love IWGB members to be involved. To reserve a place, please email laurence.byrne@london.ac.uk Do also get in touch if you have any questions!

Workshop information:

THE LIBRARY examined – A LIBRARY INDUCTION AND BOOK CONSTrUCTING WORKSHOP

SATURDAY, 27 JAN 2017

11AM-4PM

SENATE HOUSE LIBRARY

4TH FLOOR, DURNING LAWRENCE LIBRARY

“I believe the subtext here is rapidly becoming text” – Giles, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Join Rose Nordin, Heiba Lamara (OOMK) and Hudda Khaireh (Thick/er Black lines collective) for an unorthodox library induction and investigative book making workshop at Senate House Library inspired by the content of “The Library Was” publication and its second edition launch scheduled to follow the session.
Through the lens of a library induction and book assignment, participants are invited to interrogate the nature of custodianship, accessibility, the library as a disciplining technology and the historical construction of the humanities as an academic discipline.

Undergo a challenge through the library to retrieve books that will be used to generate a set of communal publications that form a sutured vocabulary between the different literatures and collections. Take part in the print and production line to experiment in sharing material, space and personal testimony and reflect on the conditions under which the function of the library is possible.

Participants will leave the workshop with new skills in navigating library systems and a physical, self-made book – with a copy of their publication archived on the Senate House Library shelves.

Participants:

This workshop is aimed at non-library card holders, whether students or otherwise, looking for an opportunity to explore Senate House Library’s collections. We particularly encourage attendance from anybody who has found the idea of using an academic library daunting or unwelcoming. With learnt information and print techniques on offer from practitioners and Senate House librarians, you will take away your own publication and transferrable print skills.

Attendees are encouraged to attend the re-launch of The Library Was from 6-8.30pm

OOMK is an art collective and biannual publication run by Heiba Lamara, Sofia Niazi and Rose Nordin. OOMK ZINE explores themes surrounding women, art and activism. OOMK collective organises and participates in numerous publishing fairs annually, as well as discussions around independent publishing and DIY culture. The workshop is designed and run in collaboration with consulting editor Hudda Khaireh, an interdisciplinary researcher, reader and co-founder of Thick/er Black lines collective.

Senate House Library is the central library of the University of London and the School of Advanced Study. It holds world class research and special collections in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

IMPORTANT – massive changes threatened to USS pensions —

IMPORTANT – massive changes threatened to USS pensions

Please read this if you are in the USS pension scheme – the shit is about to hit the fan.

You may know that negotiations over changes to the scheme have been going on between UCU, the employers and USS.

The employers propose:

1. An end to the collective Defined Benefit (DB) pension scheme and its replacement with an individual Defined Contribution (DC) scheme.

Under DB, you know what you will get and what you will pay – risk is shared between scheme members and employers. Under DC, you know what you pay, you just don’t know what you will get – all the risk is transferred to individuals as members of the pension scheme.  This makes a DC scheme both expensive, costs of running the scheme are not minimised and collectively shared, but even more dangerously an individual’s pension is at risk of wild variation in asset prices immediately prior to retirement. The only solution to this for the individual DC member is that they themselves de-risk their own pension with the result that they have lower returns and a still lower pension.

2. A cut in the employers’ contributions to the scheme. Rather than promise a minimum level of contribution to our pensions they will transfer all ‘de-risking’ costs to members and cut employer contributions to 12.45% for future pensions. This will rob us of our pensions in the DC scheme. When everyone is being told they need to save more for pensions – our employers are doing the opposite.

Moving everyone to DC will destroy the link between past and future staff, break the important link that ensures the DB scheme remains open to new entrants and therefore continues to grow with positive cash flows, risks destroying future pensions and has the opposite effect of ‘de-risking’ by creating the very deficit they seek to avoid.

More details can be found here.

Despite UCU opposition, the employers are determined to push these disastrous changes through – and a decision on whether to adopt them will be made on 23 January.

The only way to stop this is going to be sustained strike action and a massive public campaign!

What can IWGB members do (feel free to email me with questions – dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk):

1. UCU are currently balloting members nationwide for strike action. They will get the results of the ballot on the 19 January. If strike action is called at Senate House all affected IWGB members will be able to participate and we will be on the picket line. It is vital that we all take part in this!

2. Write to your MP – 50 MPS have already signed an early day motion against these changes (see sample letter at https://www.ucu.org.uk/USS-emailyourMP).

3. Write to Kim Frost to request that the University itself oppose these plans – my email and his response are below:

Dear Danny,

The University is part of the UUK employers’ group and this group represents the views of employers on the USS scheme. As you know the negotiations on the current valuation results are in progress at present.

Best wishes

Kim

Kim Frost

University Secretary and Director of Human Resources

From: Danny Millum
Sent: 15 December 2017 14:47
To: Kim Frost <Kim.Frost@london.ac.uk>
Subject: Proposed changes to the USS pension scheme
Importance: High

Dear Kim

As you are obviously aware, proposals to change the USS pension scheme are currently being discussed.

These proposals would see the end of guaranteed pension payments and a loss more than £200,000 over the course of a retirement for a typical member of staff.

Would you be able to clarify the University of London’s position with regard to this issue?

Best wishes

Danny

 

 

Important! Your USS pension is under threat! — December 15, 2017

Important! Your USS pension is under threat!

You have probably already seen, but talks are currently ongoing over proposals from Universities UK (UUK) to radically change the USS pension scheme.

The key element of these changes is the plan to end guaranteed pension payments, which would mean a loss more than £200,000 over the course of a retirement for a typical member of staff.

UUK’s proposal is that – apart from death and incapacity benefit – USS should now become what is called a fully defined contribution (DC) scheme.

In effect this means that your final pension is no longer guaranteed, but instead will be wholly dependent upon returns from the stock market on your ‘investment’.

This proposal has been made despite the fact that USS themselves have shown that most employers can afford to pay more to help secure existing benefits and despite the fact that a majority of employers who responded to UUK’s own consultation said they wanted to retain a defined benefit scheme.

What can we do?

Talks are currently ongoing at a national level but are due to end on 18 December.

UCU are currently balloting members over strike action, and are planning strikes for February should these talks fail.

We need to make sure that there is strong local oppositon in each institution, and so we will be calling on IWGB members to support any strikes at the University of London AND campaigning vigorously in 2018 against these changes!

We’ve also written to Kim Frost to clarify what the UoL position is in relation to these changes.

Any questions email Danny (dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk) or Catherine (catherinemorrissey@iwgb.co.uk).

 

Report from the first ICE Forum meeting — November 29, 2017

Report from the first ICE Forum meeting

Monday was the first meeting of the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) forum.

After pushing for this for three long years, we in IWGB are delighted to report that it was a fantastic start!

IWGB now accounts for 16 of the 18 staff reps, so thanks to your support we have finally established a mechanism through which we are informed and consulted, in addition to the two other unions at UoL. Through IWGB, an alternative voice is finally being heard by University management in a formal setting.

Yesterday’s meeting was extremely positive. The University clearly took it seriously as they were represented by three members of HR (including the deputy director of HR services) and senior managers from UoLIA, Finance, Procurement and Estates.

In addition to the University’s agenda items, the IWGB raised a number of issues including appraisals, contracts and holidays for levels 1-6, among others. There was good engagement from management so we hope even more information will follow soon.

See below this email for a brief summary of the topics we raised on behalf of staff; we’ll send a more detailed report as soon as we can. Minutes should be available to all staff before the break. If there’s anything you want to feed back on the points discussed, please do let us know!

If you would like the IWGB reps to raise an issue concerning your particular workplace, or a general issue concerning the University or staff overall then please do get in touch with your local reps (copied in). You’re also very welcome to drop me a line. IWGB has fought long and hard to have an official seat at the table with UoL management.  Now that we have one we are very keen to use it for the benefit of staff.  So please do get in touch with any feedback or suggestions!

The next meeting will take place sometime next term. Don’t forget that you can contact us at any time to tell us about an issue that you think affects staff or that you want more information about. We’ll be glad to take it up for you!

Very best wishes,

Danny Millum

Branch Secretary, SAS ICE rep

IWGB University of London

Notes on the meeting

The University had a few items on the agenda, such as that they are revising the dignity at work policy and grievance and disciplinary procedures, and a discussion of the current Facilities Management (outsourcing) review.

Thanks to your input, the reps also raised several issues staff wanted to talk to management about, including:

  • CoSector – IWGB CoSector rep Colin Watson reported that staff feel there is a lack of strategic direction and poor communication. UoL agreed to consider setting basic standards for staff meetings and took on board the points about strategy and management.
  • Appraisals – IWGB UoLIA rep Bill Kelliher reported that the way they are conducted is uneven, the timing is unhelpful and many staff feel there is currently little point doing them. UoL agreed that this needs to be looked at.
  • Sickness policy – IWGB IALS rep Lindsey Caffin reported that staff couldn’t find the policy, and that it was being applied unevenly –some staff are called in to account for themselves after 5 days, some after 10, some not at all. It was agreed that policies should be easier to find and should be a support for staff rather than something intimidating.
  • Recruitment chill – IWGB Library rep Elizabeth Morcom reported that the criteria for applying or not applying the 6-month chill was unclear, with front-line posts not being recruited while other, less important roles are sometimes advertised immediately.
  • Multi-Factor Authentification – IWGB SAS rep Marty Steer reported staff concerns that MFA was encroaching on staff’s personal devices, and that the way this policy was implemented and communicated was not satisfactory. UoL managers agreed it had not been well-thought through.
  • Grades 1-6 holiday allowance – IWGB SAS rep Danny Millum spoke about the continued inequality of the holiday allowance, under which grades 1-6 receive 27 days and 7-10 receive 30 days. UoLIA UCU rep Tim Hall noted that unions had pushed hard for 30 days when UoL announced the increase from 25. UoL noted the strength of feeling on the issue.
  • HEE and UoL contracts – IWGB HEE rep Joe Parrott asked why it’s the case that any staff members in HEE who get a higher-graded job have to switch from UoL employment contracts to ‘agenda for change’ contracts, and reported that staff are not happy about it. UoL managers present were unable to answer this but promised to look into it and report back after the meeting.
  • UoLIA review/reviews in general – IWGB UoLIA rep Catherine Morrissey spoke about the recent review conducted in UoLIA, and asked UoL to note that conducting such reviews and using them to force through change is not an appropriate tactic. UoL acknowledged that this is a bigger issue that should also be on the agenda for the next meeting. Managers also reported that the teams in the review would be informed about next steps and confirmed that no other teams in UoLIA are on the list for review.

 

To all of our supporters – University of London admits using zero-hour contracts — November 10, 2017

To all of our supporters – University of London admits using zero-hour contracts

To all of you who have written to the University of London in support of our in-house campaign – many thanks!

Many of you will have received a stock response from the University, which contains a startling number of inaccuracies.

The worst of these is that the University claimed their contractors DID NOT USE ZERO HOUR CONTRACTS.

However, when presented with the evidence that this was untrue, they have been forced to retract this, with a reply from the University Secretary stating: ‘I’ve looked into this and will remove it from our responses in future’.

The fact that the University allows zero-hour contracts to be used is bad enough. The fact that it has been hiding this is even worse.

Please do feel free to let the University (Vice-Chancellor@london.ac.uk cc’ing uolbackinhouse@iwgb.org.uk) know what you think of this – a draft response is below.

Dear Kim

Many thanks for getting back to me, although there are a few issues with your response that I would like to clarify

1. You state that your contractors do not use zero hours contracts. In fact:

a) The majority of Aramark employees are on zero-hour contracts

b) A significant number of Cordant cleaners are on zero-hour contracts

c) A number of Cordant security officers are still on 336-annual-hours-contracts, which are the equivalent of zero-hour contracts

Furthermore, you have now admitted that zero hours contracts ARE used – at what point did you become aware of this?

2. Holiday and sick pay arrangements:

a) In-house employees receive 6 months full pay and 6 months half-pay. Outsourced workers receive 6 months full pay only (both subject to service).

b) In-house employees receive a minimum of 27 days, outsourced 25 days (subject to service, excluding bank holidays).

c) In-house employees receive on average each year 6 additional University days.

3. The promise to maintain the differential was made by yourself, in writing and guarantees that the differential would be maintained. There is no mention at all that this would be a temporary state of affairs, nor would it be logical to initially maintain a differential and afterwards to abandon it.

4. To say that you have seen no evidence of illegal deductions from pay, bullying or discrimination is extremely disingenuous – you have not seen them because you have deliberately looked the other way. The IWGB union has handled literally dozens of cases of exactly this sort with the University’s contractors, and would be happy to provide a breakdown should you so wish.

5. I note that you do not address the issue of pensions – presumably because you recognise that the University has no case here at all. The difference between the outsourced pension employer contribution (1% in the case of Cordant) and the SAUL contribution (13%) is enormous (although the contribution to your own USS pension is of course even higher). There is no justification at all why a predominantly BME workforce should receive the former, and a predominantly white workforce the latter – this is quite simply discriminatory.

We hope this clarifies why we and others will continue to support this campaign, and we would urge the University that, rather than continuing to drag out this process and besmirch its own reputation further while conducting this face-saving review, it instead recognises the inevitable and commits immediately to bringing all its employees in-house.

ICE elections to be held in UoLIA! — October 20, 2017

ICE elections to be held in UoLIA!

 

As there are 8 candidates for 5 ICE rep positions in UoLIA, there are going to be elections!

IWGB is standing four candidates, and would urge you to vote for them all to ensure this forum represents a strong voice for staff!

Read our candidates’ full statements: Nic Charlton, Rebecca Dooley, Bill Kelliher, Catherine Morrissey

IWGB has been established at the University since 2012 and now represents well over 100 in-house staff, as well as around 250 outsourced workers – that makes us the biggest union on campus. It’s important for outsourced staff to have a voice here as well as us, and that’s one of the things we want to bring to this forum.

Of course, directly employed staff like you and me are the focus of ICE as well and we think we can help shake things up! We take a different approach to the traditional unions: for instance, with London Weighting we organised a huge staff petition and several public meetings on that a few years ago and had HR really worried! The eventual deal wasn’t perfect, but we don’t think any acceptable offer would have been made at all without the pressure IWGB applied. We’re an alternative voice for staff that can really make a difference.

In addition, you may have seen us around the University lately, supporting and representing outsourced staff in their campaign. In just six months we’ve pushed UoL from saying “outsourcing isn’t our concern” to “we’re conducting a review of outsourcing”! We also do a lot of casework here for staff of all grades, and get great results on individual and institutional levels.

We’re innovative and adaptive: outside UoL we’re defining UK law on the ‘gig economy’. We’re still growing here and elsewhere, and have had a string of wins against employers in the courts. We’re proactive and effective in driving change in everything we do, and could achieve so much more at UoL in a forum like ICE.

The ICE forum will run alongside the University’s other ‘recognition’ meetings, which the two other unions attend. So Unison and UCU will continue to be consulted in this way. We’re asking you to vote for IWGB candidates in the ICE forum, because we think we have a different and equally valid contribution to make.

You don’t have to join our union to benefit from our work in the ICE forum. We promise to listen to you, fight your corner and communicate with you – this is a staff forum, and it’s about giving staff back some real power!

If you have any questions about this, please email Rebecca (rebecca.dooley@london.ac.uk).