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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
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.
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.
were previously colleagues have now been divided – with those arbitrarily left
out of scope understandably extremely upset and now preparing legal challenges.
their chosen representatives have not been properly consulted, with the result
that the process has been far more stressful and problematic than necessary.
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.
Branch Secretary, University of London IWGB