Health Education England staff to strike – 25 July! — July 12, 2019

Health Education England staff to strike – 25 July!

IWGB members working on University of London contracts at Health Education England facing a forced TUPE have voted overwhelmingly for strike action – and we have given notice that the first strike day will be Thursday 25 July!

Three years ago UoL HEE staff suffered workforce cuts of 40%. Since then the remainder have worked tirelessly to keep the service going, despite a massive spike in workloads and stress levels.

Rather than recognise the commitment and dedication of their staff, however, HEE and UoL are now seeking to make them pay the price for their own failure to acount for a £12m+ VAT bill via an unjustified and unjust TUPE transfer.

Staff are being asked to choose between 2 options:

Option 1: Transfer onto AFC contracts (what this means for a grade 4 staff member at the top of their scale)

  • Salary cut of up to £4200 per year
  • Pension contribution increase of £100+ per month
  • Loss of at least 3 days holiday
  • Working an extra 130 hours a year

Option 2: Remain on UoL contracts

  • Pay frozen forever meaning a year on year fall in living standards
  • No collective bargaining
  • Loss of 3 days holiday
  • Statutory redundancy

Obviously both of these are terrible options, and as a result IWGB members have voted for strike action.

To find out more just email Danny – dannymillum@iwgb.co.uk

IWGB ‘Housewarming party’ for UoL’s new Vice Chancellor – Friday 12 July 5pm — July 5, 2019

IWGB ‘Housewarming party’ for UoL’s new Vice Chancellor – Friday 12 July 5pm

The new Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, Wendy Norman,has now taken office, and exploited outsourced workers are organising a welcome party for Friday 12 July at 5pm.

Workers will be writing to Wendy to request a meeting, and we are hopeful that the new VC will mark a break with the disastrous and discriminatory policies of the past, and that this party will be a celebratory one!

To give the VC a warm welcome on behalf of all the exploited outsourced workers of UoL, join us and demonstrate outside Senate House on Malet St. We’ll be demanding the University of London ends discrimination, takes direct responsibility for the employment and working conditions of outsourced workers and brings them in-house now!

IWGB launches strike ballot at Health Education England — June 27, 2019
IWGB submits FOI request over effects of stress on HEE employees — June 14, 2019

IWGB submits FOI request over effects of stress on HEE employees

As the University of London looks to press ahead with its plans to TUPE HEE staff to NHS employment, despite the negative impact on their terms and conditions, we have just submitted the following FOI request. Anyone with any questions drop us a line at uol@iwgb.org.uk.

1.      The total number of UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2015.

2.      The total number of days lost to mental health related illnesses amongst UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2015.

3.      The total number of UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2016.

4.      The total number of days lost to mental health related illnesses amongst UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2016.

5.      The total number of UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2017

6.      The total number of days lost to mental health related illnesses amongst UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2017.

7.      The total number of UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2018

8.      The total number of days lost to mental health related illnesses amongst UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2018.

Summer Party 8 June / Fiesta de Verano 8 de Julio — June 7, 2019
Breakfast with the IWGB! — May 31, 2019

Breakfast with the IWGB!

Another week, another breakfast stall! Students, ex-students and IWGB organisers have been greeting outsourced workers at UCL with tea, coffee and pastries one or two mornings each week since last summer. We’d like to express our gratitude to the activists who have shaken off sleep to make these stalls happen, but most of all to the cleaners who have stuck around after work to talk to us about how we can work together to improve their terms and conditions at UCL.

Workers at the breakfast stall in May.

The stalls function as a community hub where strong relationships have developed between workers who might not see each other on shift and between workers and the union. As a result, union membership and solidarity more generally has blossomed among cleaners at UCL. We have been able to solve numerous complaints and grievances brought to us by cleaners at the stalls. At the Institute of Education, for example, cleaners told us about the imminent introduction of clock-in-clock-out fingerprint technology. After a mini-campaign by the IWGB, this was delayed indefinitely.

If you’d like to get involved with the stalls, message UCL Justice for Workers. If you’re in the area, you can find the stalls at the Malet Place entrance to UCL on Thursdays (and at different locations across UCL on Fridays).

Issues relating to the current TUPE transfer – letter from our branch secretary to the University — May 28, 2019

Issues relating to the current TUPE transfer – letter from our branch secretary to the University

Dear Professor Kopelman

I hope this email finds you well.

I am writing to you in order to raise a number of issues related to the recent TUPE transfer of front of house staff from Cordant Security to the University of London. I believe the issues raised below expose the incompetence of outsourced companies but also the lack of willingness of the University of London to commit to a genuine and honest in-house process.

It needs to be clarified to begin with that 90% of the outsourced workers remain employed by external contractors. Despite the fact that the university has maintained that it is ‘committed to the principle of in-sourcing’, it still refuses to make a clear statement committing to transferring the remaining staff into its employment. Understandably, this gives no reassurance to those left out of scope of the transfer.

With regard to the TUPE transfer itself, both Cordant and the University of London have failed to provide the workers affected by the TUPE with clear information on the methodology and criteria applied to define the scope. Instead, the whole process has been characterised by misinformation, incompetence and opacity.

Serious doubts over the information provided by Cordant relating to the transfer were initially triggered by the fact that our President Henry Chango Lopez received a letter informing him of his transfer into the university. This despite the fact that his employment with Cordant had terminated more than a year ago!

Another of our members, a receptionist at IALS, was originally excluded from the process and deemed out of scope by Cordant. She was only reinstated when the IWGB raised a grievance on her behalf.

Another IALS member, who has worked as a receptionist for more than seven years, and who was informed a month ago that her employment was going to be transferred into the University was told the day she went to collect her University of London uniform  that she was considered out of scope and that she would remain outsourced. This case has now been taken to ACAS by the IWGB.

Two further Senate House night receptionists were originally given letters telling them they would be transferred to the University – only to be told casually in person a month later that they were being excluded. They too have now lodged grievances via the IWGB.

I would also like to highlight that despite the University affirming that all ‘front of house’ services would be brought in house, many officers whose EXCLUSIVE duty is to cover reception in the academic buildings remain outsourced and employed by Cordant.

This has led to the ludicrous position that reception positions (for instance in Senate House and Stewart House) which have not been filled by an outsourced member of staff TUPE-ing, and which cannot now be filled by Cordant Security (as they are no longer responsible for reception duties) are instead being advertised via CoSector, as are positions for a porter and a postroom operative.

In addition, these are being advertised as zero-hours posts with sub-London Living Wage pay – in total breach of the University’s commitments on both these issues.

Cordant Security have also failed in their statutory responsibilities in relation to the TUPE re the scheduling of appeals and hearing of grievances. More than 15 affected Cordant Security employees, who have been excluded from the TUPE, have submitted individual appeals more than a month ago and a half ago against their unfair and unjustified exclusion from the transfer. All of them are still awaiting a response from your contractor. Furthermore a number of requests sent to your institution asking for the methodology used to define the scope of the TUPE  have received no answer.

The statutory rights of our members to choose their own trade union representation have also been repeatedly breached.  Despite the fact that both Cordant and the University of London are well aware that a vast majority of outsourced workers belong to the IWGB they have still decided to nominate Unison as employee representatives instead of allowing workers to choose or elect their own.

In addition, during the 121 consultation meetings which have been taking place as part of the TUPE, we would highlight that it has been customary practice at the University of London for outsourced staff attending such meetings to bring a representative of their choice. The UoL IWGB branch secretary has attended those meetings before during previous TUPE transfers. Despite this, our trade union representatives have been informed in writing that they would not be allowed to attend our meetings and were physically prevented from doing so by an agency security officer hired by your institution specifically for that purpose. This occurred even though the letters received by our members informed them of their right to bring a colleague or trade union representative.

Several of our members who have been considered to be in scope and have been brought in house have also informed me that the University of London has provided all of them with a template contract that did not reflect the individual terms and conditions. This is consequence not only of the absence of a genuine consultation process but also to the exclusion of their trade union representatives,  who should have been there to ensure that the information provided by the contractor was correct .

Due to all this more than 40 security officers have raised a grievance in relation to the lack of definition of the scope, the violation of the right to trade union representation and the unfair exclusion of the vast majority of the workforce from the transfer.

In conclusion, it seems clear that the root cause of these issues is the decision to split the Cordant Security contract and exclude the majority of workers from the in-house process. The result of this is:

1.       Cordant have been left to make the decision on who was or was not in scope, when it was in their interest to exclude as many employees as possible. The more employees who remain with Cordant, the larger their profit on the contract.

2.       Services have been split in a way that is not operationally viable – receptionists, the bench team, relief officers and Halls reception staff all provide cover for each other and work across different sites and shifts. By only bringing in-house 13 receptionists the University now does not have enough resource to cover this service, and cannot now rely on the larger pool of staff.

3.       Staff who were previously colleagues have now been divided – with those arbitrarily left out of scope understandably extremely upset and now preparing legal challenges.

4.       Staff and their chosen representatives have not been properly consulted, with the result that the process has been far more stressful and problematic than necessary.

The resolution to all of these issues is straightforward – to act immediately to bring in house the remainder of the Cordant Security contract. We would be happy to work with you and the PFM team to ensure that this happens as smoothly as possibly, for the benefit of both staff and the University.

Best wishes

Danny

Danny Millum

Branch Secretary, University of London IWGB

Huge victory at University of London as first workers come back in house! — May 17, 2019

Huge victory at University of London as first workers come back in house!

Next week marks a watershed moment in IWGB’s ‘back in house’ campaign as the first outsourced workers will formally be transferred to University of London employment.

Selected members of staff from reception, portering, postroom and audio-visual support will be the first in 20 years to reverse the trend of outsourcing at UoL.

This is a huge victory for the workers’ campaign as just two years ago the University refused to discuss the issue of in-housing, claiming that issues with the workers’ employment conditions were not a matter for the University to consider.

In recent communications to directly employed staff, the University has changed its line and sought to claim credit for the decision to bring the workers in house and for the beneficial effects of doing so. But it won’t be forgotten that the decision to bring these workers back in house comes after a huge campaign and massive pressure applied to the University by the workers and their union, IWGB!

IWGB has now been able to scrutinize the terms and conditions of incoming workers’ contracts and confirm that existing working patterns will be respected while everyone will be entitled to the University’s pensions, sick pay, annual leave and other benefits such as closure days – all of which mark a significant improvement on terms and conditions available to outsourced staff.

“This is an incredible day for us,” said Abdul Bakhsh, one of the affected workers and UoL IWGB Vice Chair. “We are finally getting what we have been asking for – to be treated equally with our colleagues at the University.”

But workers are determined to carry on the campaign until all their outsourced colleagues are brought in-house: the number transferring on 20 May is a tiny proportion of affected staff. The University maintains in communications that it is ‘committed to the principle of in-sourcing’ but still refuses to make a clear statement committing to transferring the remaining 200+ staff into its employment. Understandably, this gives no reassurance to those left out of scope. The workers will fight on until the campaign is won!

Have you made your check call??? — May 16, 2019