University of London contractor delays paying staff the London living wage — March 11, 2019

University of London contractor delays paying staff the London living wage

In December 2018, a group of city investors wrote to listed firms urging them to pay all employees a living wage, which in London is £10.55 and hour.

Coordinated by the Share Action campaign group, the letter pointed out that “paying the living wage to all staff and contractors is the hallmark of a responsible business.”

What pity that Nurture, the gardening outsourced company contracted to look after the University of London’s (UoL) grounds at Senate House, doesn’t buy into that “responsible business” sentiment.

The living wage is a powerful weapon against poverty. Yet, nearly four months after the London Mayor announced a new London Living Wage of £10.55 per hour (an increase of 35p per hour) some of the staff employed by Nurture are still being paid at the old rate.

Hopefully that will change now that the secretary of the UoL branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has sent the company a gentle reminder (see below).

Dear Greg

It has been brought to my attention that some staff employed by Nurture on the University of London contract are being paid below the London Living Wage (LLW) rate of £10.55 an hour.

As you are aware, Nurture is obliged under the terms of its contract to pay the LLW as a minimum.

Can you confirm that this will be corrected with immediate effect, and back-dated to November?

Best wishes,

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Damning report into outsourcing at University of London released today — March 8, 2019

Damning report into outsourcing at University of London released today

World renowned research NGO Corporate Watch has today released a damning report into the University of London’s outsourcing plans.

Outsourced workers at the University of London have been campaigning for an end to outsourcing since September 2017. Despite countless strikes, protests and a boycott of the university which was launched last year, the university has only agreed to bring in-house around 35 of a total of more than 250 outsourced workers that work at its premises.

The Corporate Watch report found that: 

  • the university has substantial cash reserves, with £45 million in the bank. 
  • financial problems used by management to argue against in-housing have been a direct result of their own expansion strategy. 
  • many of the staff at the consultancy chosen to review the costs of in-housing used to work for outsourcing companies.
  • The University of London has refused our Freedom of Information request for a copy of that review. Similar reviews by other universities found in-housing would not be significantly more expensive.

The report can be found here

For more information:

Emiliano Mellino, press officer
press@iwgb.co.uk


What do Goldsmiths security officers want most? To be treated fairly and with dignity and respect — February 13, 2019

What do Goldsmiths security officers want most? To be treated fairly and with dignity and respect

Security officers at Goldsmiths, University of London are tired of their second-class treatment. As outsourced workers managed by CIS, they do not enjoy equal treatment and the same terms and conditions as the university colleagues they protect and defend every day.

They want to be treated with dignity and respect, and are taking action over inadequate holiday pay, sick pay and derisory pensions by launching a campaign to be brought back in house immediately. As part of this campaign, they are holding a protest on Valentine’s Day at Goldsmiths HQ, 8 Lewisham Way, London SE14 6NW, 12–2.30pm.

So, come on Goldsmiths; do not continue to keep these men and women who serve you loyally at arms-length. Why don’t you just  Listen to what your security officers and students have to say.

You pride yourself on being a ‘close-knit community’ with a ‘special commitment to our local communities within south-east London’. Don’t you think it is time to end your dirty affair with CIS and show some love for your security officers?

IWGB offers negotiations to break boycott deadlock at University of London — February 8, 2019

IWGB offers negotiations to break boycott deadlock at University of London

Dear Professor Kopelman,

I am writing you on behalf of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), the union which represents the majority of the University of London’s outsourced workers, to once again offer negotiations as a way out of the current crisis. But first, a little context.

In the Spring of 2011, as a University of London postgrad student, I started working with UoL cleaners. At the time they earned just a hare above the minimum wage (then £5.90 per hour), had the statutory minimum of holidays, statutory sick pay, and no company pensions. They were not unionised and the contractor at the time, Balfour Beatty Workplace, had no regard for even the basics of employment law. Cleaners and porters went months without payment of wages sometimes, abuse was rife and maltreatment the norm. These are the effects of outsourcing.

In addition to setting up English classes to try and help provide a route out of the dire circumstances of being a University of London cleaner, we also initiated a massive recruitment drive to UNISON and launched a London Living Wage campaign. After a wildcat strike and some protests the UoL agreed to implement the London Living Wage and Balfour Beatty recognised UNISON for the purposes of collective bargaining. It was industrial action and campaigning which achieved these results.

In September 2012, still in UNISON, we launched the 3 Cosas Campaign, in order to achieve the same sick pay, holidays, and pensions for outsourced workers as enjoyed by their directly employed colleagues. For while the London Living Wage represented a massive improvement in pay, their terms and conditions still effectively compelled them to work sick or injured, made it difficult for them to visit family in their home countries, and obliged them to retire into poverty. Before launching the 3 Cosas Campaign I wrote to your predecessor offering negotiations, which were rejected.

Unfortunately, during the 3 Cosas Campaign it became clear that the UNISON officials in charge of the branch and London Region had no interest in supporting the outsourced workers. We therefore ran a slate of pro-campaign candidates in local branch elections, only to have the elections invalidated on absurd technicalities. To this day the results have not been released. It is for these reasons that we left UNISON en masse and formed the University of London branch of the IWGB.

Despite the fact that virtually all of the outsourced workers left UNISON to join the IWGB, it has been the firm policy of both the University of London and its contractors since that time to only negotiate with UNISON. In addition to the fact that negotiating with an entity which has not authority to represent the workers and no say over the campaigns is utterly futile, the UoL’s decision to negotiate with the union the workers have chosen to leave in disgust is deeply offensive to these workers.

After over a year of high profile campaigning, involving multiple protests, videos, social media activity, an email writing campaign to your predecessor, and industrial action, at the end of November, 2013 the University and its contractor announced improved sick pay, holidays, and pensions for Balfour Beatty workers. The terms were still not as good as UoL direct employees but were definitely a major improvement on the abysmal conditions prevailing at the time. Once again, this episode demonstrated that it was public pressure and campaigning which led to an improvement in the working lives and dignity of UoL outsourced workers.

But the problem has not been solved. The outsourced workers still work under inferior terms as compared to directly employed colleagues, not just in terms of sick pay, holidays, and pensions, but also in terms of maternity pay and more. Importantly, the outsourced workers suffer a far inferior treatment from management compared to direct employees. The administrative incompetence and incapable management of the outsourcing companies causes immense hardship for your outsourced workers. Pay problems, abusive management, unreasonableness, and incompetence are the defining features of outsourcing at UoL, not mere aberrations. There is no justifiable reason why the predominantly low paid and BME outsourced workforce at UoL should be continuously treated worse than, and have inferior terms and conditions compared to, the better paid, predominantly white British direct employees of the University. It is for all of these reasons that we launched the Back in House campaign in September 2017.

Throughout the duration of this campaign we have had an outstanding offer of negotiations. Indeed, I personally have written to you on more than one occasion offering to negotiate. It is the University’s refusal to negotiate, and its dogged dedication to only engaging with the recognised unions, which has led us to escalate campaign pressure. And thus we find ourselves in the midst of the Senate House Boycott, supported by hundreds, including a number of MPs and political leaders. The Boycott has led to numerous event cancellations and lost revenue for the University and has caused irreparable reputational damage.

Unlike other campaign tactics which can fizzle out without constant injections or resource and energy, the Boycott simply grows with time and becomes self-propelling; the more people cancel events, the more pressure there is for others to do the same. The Boycott is not being waged out of malice or out of desire to harm the UoL; the Boycott is the culmination of eight years of struggle for dignity and decent working conditions on the part of the workers and an obstinate refusal to engage in dialogue on the part of the University. The thing you need to understand is that just as you have a responsibility to safeguard the finances, sound management, and reputation of the University, we have a responsibility to assist our members in achieving respect, dignity, equal treatment, and decent working conditions. In the absence of dialogue and negotiation, campaign tactics are simply the most expeditious method of achieving these results.

Having set the context, I therefore reiterate my offer to talk. The University of London is unique in its refusal to negotiate; indeed the IWGB has engaged in dialogue, debate or negotiation with senior Uber executives, Matthew Taylor, directors of courier companies and a range of other employers.Especially when taking into account the IWGB’s unimpugnable claim to be the representative voice of UoL outsourced workers, the UoL’s position is all the more surprising. But it’s not too late to changecourse. If you agree to negotiate we will send a delegation of IWGB officials, comprised of both full time officers and outsourced worker reps, chosen by us, and we will sit down with you in good faith to see if we can find a negotiated way out of the current crisis.

The choice is yours.

Kind regards,

Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee

General Secretary IWGB

Plans to TUPE staff from University of London to Health Education England — November 22, 2018

Plans to TUPE staff from University of London to Health Education England

Dear all,

We are writing in our capacity as IWGB ICE representatives, as the ICE Forum has been sent documentation relating to the proposed TUPE transfer of all UoL staff to HEE, and we will be discussing this at the next Forum meeting, which will be taking place next Wednesday 28 November 2018.

The University has refused to allow us to release the actual documentation to affected staff, despite our objections, but it deals in essence with the email below that you have all received.

It is worth bearing in mind that on 28 September 2018 HR Director Simon Cain wrote to me that – ‘there is currently no discussion underway to transfer UoL staff to HEE’ – and yet now the University is moving with such haste that it intends to complete this transfer by 1 April 2019.

We have submitted the attached questions (HEETUPEtransferquestions) to the University / HEE for a response – but please do let us know if you have further queries you would like raising.

The key element of this move will be that staff will be forced to move from their current UoL pensions (SAUL or USS) into the less favourable NHS pension scheme.

The IWGB’s position is that that staff who have already been through a massive and traumatic restructure are now being made to pay again (this time via their pensions) for an accountancy error made at the highest levels.

Furthermore, there is no need for this to happen – UoL and HEE should be querying the VAT interpretation, especially since it in essence it represents the government taking money from itself.

The IWGB will be challenging this development in the ICE Forum – to escalate the fight then we need staff to get in touch and let us know what action they are prepared to take. If you want to fight this we will back you up all the way.

Best wishes

Danny

(on behalf of your IWGB ICE reps)

 

From: London and South East Communications 
Sent: 21 November 2018 15:00
To: All (London) <all.london@hee.nhs.uk>
Subject: Important update message for staff on the business relationship between HEE and University of London (UoL)

Dear colleagues,

Following my communication on 7 September 2018, I am writing to provide an update on the ongoing discussions regarding the current business relationship between HEE and the University of London (UoL). As you will be aware, UoL staff currently work alongside HEE staff as part of our operations in London.

I advised you previously that, following a HMRC review, it has been established that HEE will incur a £2.1 million VAT liability as a result of the current contractual arrangement between UoL and HEE. This change of taxation creates a cost pressure which is not sustainable going forward.

HEE’s Executive Team and the London Regional Management Group have considered all options available to HEE in reducing this cost pressure and we have determined that a full transfer of the service provision is now required.

This transfer of service provision will also require a transfer of employment for staff employed by UoL under this service provision. The transfer would be performed under the protection afforded by the legislative regulations set out under Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 amended 2014 (known as TUPE). Those regulations include the requirement for full consultation with affected staff.

HEE have notified colleagues at UoL of our intention to transfer the service provision and we have requested a transfer date of 1 April 2019. UoL will now undertake their governance and consultation procedures in response to our request.

HEE have also notified our recognised trade unions of the transfer and we will be continuing our discussions with trade union representatives on 28 November 2018 at the London Staff Partnership Group and the wider HEE Social Partnership Forum on 10 December 2018.

I will continue to keep you updated on this matter and I fully expect that UoL will also be communicating with their trade union partners and employees in due course.

A set of FAQ’s relating to the effects and practicalities of TUPE will also be provided.

In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact your line manager, trade union representative, or HR team should you have any questions at this stage.

Best wishes,

Lisa.

Lisa Bayliss-Pratt
Chief Nurse and Interim Regional Director for London

Health Education England
Stewart House | 32 Russell Square London | WC1B 5DN

 

UoL’s outsourced workers to benefit from UK living wage rise — November 17, 2018

UoL’s outsourced workers to benefit from UK living wage rise

At last some good news. The lowest paid staff at the University of London (UoL) are set for a pay increase as both Cordant Security and Cordant Cleaning, the university’s outsourcing companies, confirm they will adopt the uplift in the rate of pay set by the Living Wage Foundation on 5 November.

It means the outsourced workers struggling with the rising cost of living in London will see their pay rise to £10.55 an hour, an increase of 3.5%. For workers in the rest of the country the rate will rise 2.9% to £9 an hour.

The salary boost for Cordant’s UoL staff, which is effective from 5 November, was confirmed in an email from Guy Pakenham, Cordant Cleaning Limited’s managing director.

In his response to repeated requests for information from Danny Millum, the University of London IWGB branch secretary, Pakenham said, “I can confirm that both Cordant Security and Cordant Cleaning [will] introduce the new LLW rate from the date of announcement and it is paid on the next applicable pay rate, which in this case, falls within November for all our affected staff.”

The UK living wage pay rate is a voluntary measure adopted by more than 4,700 employers and is calculated by assessing how much workers need to meet the basic cost of living in Britain. It is £1.17 higher an hour than the statutory national minimum wage imposed by the government for those over the age of 25.

Currently £7.83 an hour for workers who are over 25, the government’s national living wage, will itself rise to £8.21 an hour from next April. For 21–24-year-olds, the current rate of £7.38 will become £7.70; and the rate for 18-20-year-olds rises from £5.90 to £6.15.

 

 

Senior research fellows urge UoL to treat all workers the same — November 16, 2018

Senior research fellows urge UoL to treat all workers the same

While the University of London’s (UoL) senior management team continue to delay providing full details of how it will bring all staff in-house and confirm that they will do so by June 2019, academics continue to show their support for its precarious workers. Below is and open letter from fellows at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies confirming their concern for the workers in view of recent revelations about managers at Cordant Services.

Jules Winterton
Director
Institute of Advanced Legal Studies
University of London
Charles Clore House
17, Russell Square
London                                                                                                                                                                                       16 November 2018

Dear Jules,

We are fellows of the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) who have signed this letter in support of outsourced workers at the Institute as we believe that all staff at the Institute should be treated equally.

We support the bringing of all outsourced staff in-house as a priority.

We kindly request on behalf of these workers that the Institute provides full details of how it will seek to bring all staff in-house and confirm that it will seek to do so by June 2019.

We are especially concerned about the outsourced workers’ position in view of the recent revelations about managers in Cordant Services, the company that employs these workers. Three women workers have brought the exact same accusations of sexism and homophobia against one Cordant manager. Another manager in charge of these staff had to be moved from this role after he was found to have shared xenophobic and far-right posts on social media. Given that the many of the outsourced staff are women, migrant and BAME, we share their concerns that they cannot be assured that they will be treated in a fair and non-discriminatory way until the University of London takes direct responsibility for their employment and working conditions.

We value our association with the Institute, and wish this association to continue, and we hope to have your support in ensuring that we can continue our association with an institution where all workers are treated the same regardless of their role.

We, the undersigned,

  1. Dr Sinéad Agnew, Senior Associate Research Fellow, IALS (Faculty of Laws, University College London)

  2. Professor Diamond Ashiagbor, Senior Associate Research Fellow, IALS (Kent Law School, University of Kent)

  3. Professor Rosemary Auchmuty, Senior Associate Research Fellow, IALS (School of Law, University of Reading)

  4. Professor Ilias Bantekas, Senior Associate Research Fellow, IALS (College of Law & Public Policy, HBKU)

  5. Dr Francis Boorman, Associate Research Fellow, History of Arbitration Project, IALS

  6. Lydia Clapinska, Associate Research Fellow, IALS (Office of the Parliamentary Counsel)

  7. Clare Cowling, Associate Research Fellow and Project Director, Legal Records at Risk project, IALS

  8. Dr Richard Danbury, Associate Research Fellow, IALS

  9. Dermot Feenan, Associate Research Fellow, IALS (Law and Compassion Research Network)

  10. Professor Rosemary Hunter, Senior Associate Research Fellow, IALS (Kent Law School, University of Kent)

  11. Professor Harry McVea, Senior Associate Research Fellow, IALS (Law School, University of Bristol)

  12. Professor Sa’id Mosteshar, Senior Associate Research Fellow, IALS (London Institute of Space Law and Policy)

  13. Professor Derek Roebuck, Senior Associate Research Fellow, IALS

IWGB’s University of London branch secretary responds to vice-chancellor’s email  — October 29, 2018

IWGB’s University of London branch secretary responds to vice-chancellor’s email 

Dear Peter

I am writing briefly in response to the email below, the tone of which I am afraid I find disappointing.

While I completely agree that professionalism, respect and mutual trust and indeed laudable principles on which to base an institution’s culture, I don’t see how that can be squared with the reality of the University of London.

Currently, predominantly BME outsourced workers at the University suffer much worse terms and conditions than their mostly white directly employed counterparts. This is blatant discrimination and incompatible with the principles you outline.

In addition, the main outsourcing company Cordant have been allowed to employ first a manager that was an open supporter of the far right, and now another manager who has been accused by no fewer than 3 women of blatantly racist, sexist and homophobic behaviour and yet remains in post. These women continue to work in fear on a daily basis, a fact difficult to square with any declaration that no member of staff should work ‘in an environment where they feel uncomfortable’.

Finally, while it’s definitely a positive development that you have met with the cleaners, it is worth bearing in mind that they have just voted 100% yes for strike action following the failure of the University to engage with them.

It is these predominantly middle-aged Latina cleaners, along with your own security officers, who will be forming the bedrock of the 30 October demonstration. When UCU struck earlier this year for 14 days the University continued as usual with no additional security – yet when low-paid migrant workers take action this is cause for a massive lockdown and pre-emptive yet vague accusations of intimidation. This can only be seen as further double standards.

As stated in numerous emails, the IWGB as the chosen union of these workers remains open for negotiation. All of our offers have been ignored. Until the University engages in dialogue to end its discriminatory employment practices there will continue to be strikes and demonstrations, and we believe it’s clear the responsibility for any disruption clearly lies with the side that refuses to negotiate.

Best wishes

Danny

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

 

From: Fiona Bernardone On Behalf Of Vice Chancellor
Sent: 26 October 2018 10:11
To: Central-University <central-university@london.ac.uk>
Subject: Message from the Vice-Chancellor

Dear Colleagues,

I have now met with most of the heads of member institutions and I have been impressed by their support for the University, and their wish to work closely with us. They all see membership of the University as a benefit to their institution. This is important when considering the University of London Bill which is currently passing through Parliament. The Bill establishes member institutions as universities in their own right. It was debated in the House of Commons last week and successfully passed through its second reading and now progresses on to the Bills Committee. Each Head sees the Bill as a means of consolidation within the federal university.

Evidence for this came from a recent visit by Chris Cobb and I to Paris. We were invited by Professor Ed Byrne, President of KCL and Deputy VC UoL, to attend the signing of a preliminary agreement between KCL and the Founding Institutions of the University of Paris for a strategic partnership. Ed was generous in his speech in emphasising UoL’s presence at the ceremony and the opportunities from closer working between the two federal universities. You will be aware of the University of London in Paris which I visited for the first time in the afternoon. It is an impressive building superbly located in the centre of the city. Our exploration with Member Institutions about how we may utilise this “asset in Europe” post Brexit has been met with considerable interest and positive proposals.

As you will have read, the Board of Trustees have firmly supported our plan for Facilities Management Services (intranet post here). I am conscious that this is a matter that has generated strong feelings, some of which have been expressed in communications directed at me and my executive team in a tone that I have found personally disappointing.

I am mindful of the planned demonstration on 30th October and of the feelings that some of you have expressed in relation to the impact of previous demonstrations at the University.  In this regard I would wish to echo the message expressed toward the end of the recent intranet post on this matter, that is, that I do not expect any member of staff to work in an environment where they feel uncomfortable.

My background as a doctor is one of professionalism, respect and mutual trust. I have previously worked closely elsewhere with colleagues and recognised representatives to foster a culture based on these principles. I will carry on with this approach here at UoL. I am continuing to visit the University’s departments and meet staff to enable as many as possible to connect with me directly. I have come in early to Senate House on a number of occasions to meet the cleaners and porters. I am constantly impressed by everyone’s very evident loyalty and commitment to the community of the University, whatever their background and would like to thank you all for the welcome you have given me.

 

Peter Kopelman
Vice-Chancellor

 

 

University of London launches race equality group — October 17, 2018

University of London launches race equality group

The University of London (UoL) is introducing its first race equality group “in recognition of the under-representation of black and minority ethnic staff in senior levels”. Membership is open to everyone at UoL and participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and insights to help the university improve its “working practices and promote a positive and inclusive workplace culture”.

The launch, which takes place on 24 October in Chancellor’s Hall, 1.30–3pm, includes a presentation by Jannett Morgan, associate director for Advance HE’s Diversifying Academic Leadership programme. She will discuss the empowerment and promotion of talented people from under-represented groups. See details here.