Open letter to the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Operations): bringing outsourced workers back in-house


Dear Pro-Vice Chancellor (Operations),

As the recognised unions at the University of London, although heartened by management’s reiterated position to remove all use of zero hour contracts, we would like to express our disappointment with the most recent statement issued by the University of London regarding the ongoing project to bring our valued colleagues back ‘in-house’.

We reaffirm our belief that all who call the University of London their regular place of work, should be directly employed and, therefore, entitled to the same protection and benefits available to them as UoL employees.

We believe this latest statement did little to address the concerns raised following both the email sent on 25 May 2018 and SharePoint update on 06 June 2018 and again fails to address the very real concerns of members of staff over who, when and how our colleagues will be brought back in house. We remind you that in a previous statement from management, we were told that “in practical terms, these initiatives will be progressed over the next 12-18 months with some services being brought in house in 2018/19”.

We request that Senior Management address the following issues;

  1. Use of language
    We note that the statement issued did not include one instance of words or terms such as ‘worker’, ‘people’, ‘in-house’ or ‘bringing people in house’. This is unsettling given that some of these terms have been used within the previous communication and given that this issue is primarily about how people are employed. When communicating regarding this issue, these phrases should be used to avoid confusion and to provide clarity over who and what is being discussed.
  2. Timetable
    We also note that we have yet to receive a timetable of who will be brought in house and when. The only recent reference made to a timeframe related to a possible customer service model and student residential life programme being presented to the Board of Trustees in the autumn. We request that a more detailed timetable be provided, to demonstrate the current stage of planning. Whilst we appreciate that such plans may be in a draft form, it is important that colleagues have sight of provisional plans as these also provide reassurance that the University remains committed to this issue. This should include reference to our cleaning colleagues as they were not directly addressed within the most recent statement.
  3. Implementation group
    It has been suggested by senior management that an ‘in-housing implementation group’ is established. We request that the unions have full consultation on the Terms of Reference for and membership of this group.
  4. Security review
    That the unions also have full consultation on the upcoming security review including agreeing the Terms of Reference, which security and technology experts are selected, and input into the methodology used for the review. Union involvement in this process is paramount, particularly now it has been communicated to staff. This is a health and safety issue and there will be many questions. Additionally, particularly in light of recent media coverage, reference should be made to the recent expenditure of University funds on enhanced security and what this has achieved over the last few weeks.
  5. Zero hours contracts
    Clarification over which service providers are currently reviewing their zero hours contracts. We are aware Aramark are reviewing their zero-hours contracts but the statement suggests that all contracted out service providers are doing this and perhaps the University itself ‘across our estate’.
  6. Residential Student Life programme
    The link between the Residential Student Life programme and the FM review is unclear. This needs to be unpacked and explained. If the University remains committed to seeking outcomes that are mutually agreeable to employer and employees, then clear, transparent and suitably detailed information must be offered as a key part in achieving this.

We look forward to receiving a response that addresses each of these issues in turn.


UNISON & UCU Senate House branches

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