IWGB questions proposed closure of Lunchbox café and subsequent redundancies — June 26, 2018

IWGB questions proposed closure of Lunchbox café and subsequent redundancies

Less than two years after staff working at the Lunchbox café in Student Central were TUPE’s to Aramark from University of London employment, plans are afoot to close the outlet. This would mean the loss of a vital shared space for students in Bloomsbury and potential redundancies.

There is no doubt that with proper investment this could be a profitable concern.  IWGB is appealing to the university to reverse this decision and recognise its wider responsibility for Bloomsbury’s student and academic community, and has today contacted Vivienne Shinner, Aramark’s director of operations (see below), to call for clarification and question the hasty nature of the formal consultation process, which is taking place without adherence to due process.

Dear Viv,

I have been informed by affected staff that there are plans to close the Lunchbox café at Student Central with a number of potential redundancies.

This information was communicated to staff at a meeting on Wednesday 20 June, at which they were also informed that the formal consultation process had begun.

As with previous Aramark restructures, it is clear that due process is not being followed here.

  1. Aramark has immediately entered into formal consultation over redundancy with no attempt being made over preceding months to improve the situation or involve staff.
  2. Insufficient information has been provided for this to constitute a meaningful consultation – all that staff have been told is that the outlet has been suffering ‘difficult trading conditions’ and has made a loss of £12.6k over the last 10 months. Without more detail as to the financial situation (previous profit levels, turnover, investment or lack thereof) it is impossible for staff to participate properly in this process.
  3. No consideration whatsoever has been given to the role that the café plays as part of the wider University community, and the impact the loss of this facility and this space will have on the student experience more widely, as well as the other outlets based in the building.
  4. This comes only 2 years after the restructure which saw staff TUPE from the University of London to Aramark. It is a damning indictment of the lack of resource that has been put into the café that Aramark are now looking to close a previously thriving café.
  5. You state in your letter that this is merely a consequence of ‘difficult trading circumstances’. However, in the meeting you said that the decision had in fact been made by the University of London – which of these is in fact the case?
  6. Coincidentally, this comes at a time when Aramark and the University have been forced by the IWGB campaign to end zero-hour contracts at the UoL – it would appear extremely convenient that Aramark have chosen this moment to try and save money by making staff redundant.

Could you please provide full detail of the financial position of the café and the decision-making process / alternatives considered prior to this point?

Could you also confirm who on the University of London side is responsible for this decision?

Can you confirm that in ANY redundancy package staff will receive the enhanced redundancy terms accorded to University of London staff?

Best wishes,

Danny

 

University of London commits to abolishing zero-hours contracts by new academic year — June 11, 2018

University of London commits to abolishing zero-hours contracts by new academic year

A strike and subsequent demonstration from the IWGB on Wednesday 6 June has pushed the University of London to release a statement regarding the future of outsourced contracts at the university’s central properties.

While concessions were made with regards to zero-hour contracts – which will be abolished by the end of the summer vacation – they continue to lack a commitment to bring all outsourced staff back in-house over the coming 12 months. Until this is promised, the IWGB will continue its campaign to support the brave outsourced staff at the University of London who are still needing to fight for equality in terms and conditions, and treatment. Continue reading

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up — June 8, 2018

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up

Dear Chris

I have not yet received a reply from yourself or the University to my emails below, but as a new statement has appeared on the intranet I am going to take that as a response of sorts.

There is much in that statement to take issue with (I believe my colleague Dr Moyer-Lee has already been in touch regarding this), but I just wanted to concentrate on one key point.

The statement claims: ‘The continued protests reinforce the belief expressed by the Board that bringing services in-house will not eliminate continued disruption and the resulting high costs’.

Surely it is obvious that the opposite is true.

The protests have continued because services have NOT been brought in-house. All the University has done is issue a vague statement which guarantees nothing.

A clear declaration that all services will be brought in house within 12 months, if agreed by the workers (we do like to include the actual people affected in these decisions), would end the campaign and of course eliminate the continued disruption.

This is the IWGB position, and it could not be more reasonable or straightforward. I would once again ask you to look at the situation objectively – these workers are simply asking for equal treatment. The University is denying them this, and refusing to talk to them or their representatives. Therefore they have no option but to campaign. The costs that this is incurring for our institution are totally unnecessary, and result from the University’s unreasonableness.

I, and your outsourced workers, would appreciate at least the courtesy of a reply to this email.

Best wishes,

Danny

 

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

 

Sent on 5 June 2018

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up

Dear Chris

I am also attaching today’s letter from John McDonnell, in which he calls for a new statement from the University of London containing ‘no longer than a 12-month implementation period’ and ‘dialogue and negotiations with the IWGB’.

I hope that the University will take note of the opinion of such a senior figure, and take these two sensible steps to resolve this issue.

Best wishes

Danny

 

Sent on 5 June 2018

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up

Dear Chris

I am just following up on my emails below, to both yourself and the Board of Trustees, having received a reply to neither.

I am doing so in the light of tomorrow’s industrial action and protest, and also the revelations in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper as to the sheer scale of the University of London’s spending on additional security.

IWGB members (particularly those Cordant workers who have been on strike for the last year) are extremely frustrated and disappointed, having been given no solid guarantees at all as to their future, and left hanging with appalling management and discriminated against in terms of their terms and conditions. We have continually offered the University the opportunity to negotiate directly with its outsourced workers – and the University has refused to do so, and instead spent hundreds of thousands of pounds unnecessarily.

The University now has the opportunity to resolve this crisis (see below for the workers’ extremely reasonable demands – that contracts be brought back in-house within 12 months). Should it not take it, then it must take responsibility for all the additional costs, damage to reputation (the Observer will be reporting tomorrow from the picket line) and disruption to its core academic mission.

I hope that you and the Board of Trustees realise that it is simply irrational to continue with this policy.

Best wishes,

Danny

 

Sent on 31 May 2018

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees

Dear Board of Trustees members

I am writing as branch secretary of the University of London IWGB with regard to the campaign to bring workers in-house at the University of London.

I would like to start by apologising for not writing to the whole Board. As you probably know, it’s hard to track down contact details for all the members – please do forward this on as appropriate!

As I am sure you are aware, the IWGB represents the vast majority of outsourced workers at the University of London, and has been campaigning since September 2017 to end outsourcing and the discriminatory 2-tier workforce at Senate House.

The campaign has garnered huge press attention and popular support, most recently featured the biggest outsourced worker strike in HE history, and has resulted in the decision of the Board of Trustees (made at the 23 May meeting) to bring workers back in-house.

However, as you will see from my email below, while we welcome this decision in principle, the statement issued by Adrian Smith is extremely vague, and as a consequence has no chance of achieving the stated aims of the Board in reducing the risk of industrial action or ending disruption at the University of London.

Indeed, there is another strike planned for next Wednesday 6 June, which has already caused a major event to be moved.

What we are calling for is very straightforward – a clear statement from the University of London (similar to that made by SOAS) that outsourcing will end in 12 months or less.

Without clarity on this issue, there is no way that our members and supporters (who know that it is only their pressure that has brought the University to this decision) will end their campaign.

We will be making this letter public, so that it is quite clear how reasonable the IWGB position is – and that the ball is clearly in the University of London’s court if it wishes to end this dispute.

Best wishes,

Danny

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

 

Sent on 30 May 2018

Subject: Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – next steps

Dear Chris

I am writing in response to the message below from the Vice-Chancellor regarding the Board of Trustee’s decision on bringing outsourced workers in-house.

While we welcome the decision in principle expressed below, this statement will not be sufficient to end the in-house campaign at the University of London, or stop the strike action due to take place next week.

The disruption to the University’s activity will continue (I am sure that you will be aware that next week’s Down and Out event has chosen to move location in support of the workers) and the University will continue to accrue negative publicity (see today’s letter from Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley (attached) as well as numerous press articles (of which this is the latest). The situation is only likely to escalate given the extreme disappointment among workers which the VC’s statement has engendered.

I am therefore writing to clarify what is needed ‘to expedite the process to reduce the risk of industrial action as far as possible and ensure the University is not distracted or hindered from furthering its core academic mission’ – something which both we and the Board wish to see.

The current statement is much too vague with regard to contracts, timescales and even which groups will be affected.

Workers require a statement along the lines of the 4 August 2017 SOAS announcement from Baroness Amos, which made clear that outsourcing would be ended within 12 months, and all workers brought in-house house with no loss of jobs or hours.

The IWGB and its members would then be prepared to suspend the campaign, and we could move onto working together to ensure that the transition was a smooth one and beneficial to both parties.

Our position is an eminently reasonable one, and I would remind you that we remain (as I have reiterated on numerous occasions) open to direct talks to resolve this dispute.

Best wishes,

Danny

 

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

 

Message from the Vice-Chancellor regarding Board of Trustees decision

From: Human Resources
Sent: 24 May 2018 16:04
To: Central-University <central-university@london.ac.uk>
Subject: Message from the Vice Chancellor

Dear Colleagues

I am writing to you to update you on the discussion and decision on the Facilities Management Review that was taken at the Board of Trustees meeting yesterday afternoon. The Board accepted the recommendation from the Facilities Management Review Group that:

The University will develop an efficient provision model in which in house services are supported by contracts designed to provide both the specialist expertise and the flexibility to respond to the varying needs of the University. 

However the Board raised significant concerns over the additional costs of bringing services in house and the impact on the University’s academic agenda. The Board were content to support the Review Group’s recommendations contingent on seeing more detailed plans and costs which would deliver benefits to both staff and the University together with plans for mitigating the impact on academic activities and student facing services. The Board would like the University Management to expedite the process to reduce the risk of further industrial actions as far as possible and ensure the University is not distracted or hindered from furthering its core academic mission.

The decision will mean a significant financial investment which will be linked to key strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring  security and compliance at Senate House and across our estate following heightened security risks
  • Ensuring Senate House offers a high quality experience for staff, academic activity and events
  • The development of an effective Residential Student Life programme, recognising that we need to enhance and broaden our pastoral care for residents in halls

In practical terms, these initiatives will be progressed over the next 12-18 months with some services being brought in house in 2018/19 where there is an opportunity and clear rationale for doing this although the process will be phased over subsequent years.

I would like to thank the Review Group on the thoroughness of the review and the understanding reached on an extremely complex set of issues. While the outcome may not meet everyone’s expectations, I do believe it to be reasonable, measured and deliverable.

Based in the Board’s decision, I have asked for additional security to be stepped down in the hope that the threat of student occupation is now reduced.  This will be kept under review and will be reintroduced if necessary despite the high costs.

Starting at once, the University Management will work closely with the recognised Trade Unions, (UNISON and UCU) and current contractors to transition staff into the University as well as work urgently to address issues that have been highlighted during the review e.g. the elimination of zero hours contracts.

 

 

University outsourced workers announce further industrial action after historic strike — May 15, 2018

University outsourced workers announce further industrial action after historic strike

  • More than 100 cleaners, porters, receptionists and other outsourced workers of the University of London will strike on 6 June
  • Workers demand an end to outsourcing, an end to zero-hours and pay rises
  • Last strike and protest was attended by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Shadow Minister for Labour Laura Pidcock MP, and musician Billy Bragg.

University of London workers organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) are to go on strike on 6 June, following the biggest-ever strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history. Continue reading

Pensions meeting update and breaking news — March 22, 2018

Pensions meeting update and breaking news

The 22 March all-staff meeting held by the University and College Union (UCU) at Senate House attracted nearly 40 people keen to receive an update on the current UK-wide universities pensions dispute.

It was led by Tim Hall, UCU’s Senate House branch chair, who provided a summary of events to date including a day-by-day picket report. He also recognised the ongoing support from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), and confirmed there will be a further 14 days of strike action starting in late May or early June. Continue reading

University cleaners announce biggest ever outsourced workers strike in UK higher education — March 15, 2018

University cleaners announce biggest ever outsourced workers strike in UK higher education

BREAKING NEWS: STRIKE FUND CROWDPAC NOW OPEN! PLEASE DONATE HERE!

  • More than 100 cleaners, porters, receptionists and other outsourced workers of the University of London will strike on 25 and 26 April
  • Workers demand an end to outsourcing, an end to zero-hours and pay rises
  • Campaign has been supported by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and others

University of London workers organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) are to hold the biggest-ever strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history. Continue reading