A response to our message (bringing outsourced workers back in-house)

Dear Members,

Please see the following message received from Chris Cobb as a response to our message on the 3rd of July regarding the Facilities Management Review.

Dear UNISON and UCU Senate House branches,

I would first like to acknowledge both your disappointment regarding the University’s 29th June 2018 FM review update, and the reaffirmation of your belief that all who call the University of London their regular place of work, should be directly employed.

I have provided a response to your specific requests below.  I do hope that you will acknowledge that these were addressed, orally, in the specially convened FM review update meeting which took place on 10th July 2018, and were discussed in further detail at the meeting of the University’s Joint Negotiation and Consultation Committee on 12th July 2018.

From my side, I acknowledge that the University has yet to provide you with the degree of specificity you seek particularly regarding our intentions in relation to your participation moving forward. 

Turning to your specific requests and retaining your numbering for ease of reference.

  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.

The statement issued on 29th June 2018 was intended to provide an update on the activity that was being undertaken to take forward the recommendation of the FM Steering Group.  The primary focus of the statement therefore was to highlight the significant planning that was underway in the 3 areas mentioned in that statement (Customer Service Model, Student Residential Life Programme and Security Review); planning that will ultimately underpin the basis on which we will move forward.

We accept however that the statement would have benefited from retaining the same or similar references to ‘worker’, ’people’, in-house’ as used in previous communications.  We will therefore be very mindful of this when preparing future updates.

  1. 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.

I trust you will accept that we are endeavouring to balance the desire to provide certainty at the earliest opportunity with the wish to avoid establishing a set of timelines that may prove challenging to meet for a variety of reasons; not all of which can be anticipated, or under our control.

I trust you will also accept that we need to mindful of our contractual obligations to our contracted out suppliers and their staff when setting out a programme of work that will have a material impact on their future relationship with the University.

I can assure you however that we remain wholly committed to this issue and are in ongoing dialogue with our contracted out suppliers.

The current planning is focused on the following services: security, reception, switchboard, porters, post room, AV and cleaning. 

If our current planning progresses as anticipated and our plans are subsequently accepted by the Board of Trustees in the autumn, our aim would be to put in a place an in-house service provision for reception, porters, post room and AV during the second and third (calendar) quarters of 2019.

You will understand that we are not able to be absolute in our timings and the above provisional timings will be subject to discussion with our suppliers and further informed by our, and our suppliers, statutory obligations in respect of the people they (our suppliers) employ to work at the University.

The security and cleaning services are quite complex in that they involve more work streams than the other services and rely on specialist contractors to an extent that the other services do not.  The planning in relation to these services will inevitably therefore take longer.  Our aim however is to be in a position to outline a provisional timeline in relation to cleaning services by the end of October 2018 and in relation to security by December 2018.

We are not yet in a position to add anything by way of further update in relation to our hard FM, catering and grounds services for the reasons set out in the statement of 29th June 2018.  Please be assured however that we remain in active discussion with the current service providers.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Insofar as your 3rd and 4th requests relate largely to your participation moving forward, I have addressed them together.

The University welcomed and valued the contributions made by both UCU and UNISON to the FM Steering Group and remains committed to your ongoing engagement in all aspects of the activities arising from its work.

To this end, we propose forming a sub-group of the Joint Negotiating and Consultation Committee, specifically for this purpose.  You will shortly receive a request to each nominate a sub-group representative and there is an open invitation for your respective regional representatives to attend any meeting of the sub-group. 

We will aim to hold the first meeting of the sub-group on early-mid September 2018.

  1. 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’.

I can confirm that Aramark are the only supplier who currently engage individuals on zero hours contracts.  The University does not engage anyone on this form of contract.  Aramark have informed us that their aim is to offer new (alternative) contracts in the new academic year.

  1. 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.

The Residential Student Life programme is primarily concerned with the student experiencein our Halls of Residence.  Many of the services to students in halls are provided by the people working for our contracted out suppliers, these include, security, reception, cleaning and portering. With this being the case, we will be considering the best model for the delivery of these services moving forward, in keeping with the aim of introducing an in-house service provision supported by specialist contracts.

As you will expect, the work outlined above will remain a priority for me and senior colleagues over the coming months and we welcome your ongoing engagement as the work progresses.

Best wishes

Chris

Whilst this does shed some more light on the matter I’m sure that you’ll have questions (feel free to email us). Committee will be meeting shortly to discuss this further at which point we’ll provide another update.

UCU Senate House Branch Committee

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

UCU & UNISON

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.

Sincerely,

UNISON & UCU Senate House branches

Questions about the in-housing announcement? We do!

We are collating questions about last Friday’s in-housing announcement prior to our next meeting with management.

question

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let us know by:

  • Talking to us at our weekly drop-in clinic (12.30 – 1.30, next and every Monday) in SB25 (to find the room, get to the reception desk of the lower ground floor in Senate House, turn right and go through the double doors  – the room signage is on order!)
  • Popping over to see us at the joint Q&A point we’re holding with UNISON in the LG floor reception, Senate House (just outside Deller Hall) on Thursday 7 June between 12.30pm and 1.30pm
  • Emailing a member of the committee 

 

FM Review: joint statement by UCU and UNISON, Senate House branches

Dear All,

As you’ll be aware – there has been a statement from the Vice-Chancellor that confirms the Board of Trustees has agreed to start bringing out-sourced workers back in-house.

This is a positive result but it isn’t over. We now need to seek more clarity and commitment from the University and to work diligently and with purpose to scrutinize the next steps in the process, and to ensure that it happens.

We always knew that going into this process we were going to have to consider the technicalities of things like transferring contracts and developing infrastructure, and that’s why we’re going to need as much help as possible from all of those involved in order to get it done properly and in good time.

I encourage all members to email UCU@london.ac.uk and give us your thoughts on the announcement.

We’ll be coming back to you very soon with more updates based on member feedback. In the meantime, please read the following message as it is intended: a promise from us to do our part in bringing people back in-house as quickly as possible.

Tim Hall
Branch Chair

 

UCU & UNISON

As you will be aware the recognised trade unions at the University of London, UNISON and UCU, have taken part in the ongoing Facilities Management Review, and have consistently worked hard to persuade the University to end outsourcing and bring all outsourced workers back in-house.

Both UCU and UNISON are very encouraged to hear the Board of Trustees have agreed with the joint recommendation, reached through discussions between management and Union representatives, to bring outsourced workers in-house. This will happen in a phased basis, starting in 18/19, this phased approach was agreed in order to minimise the impact on the financial health of the University and create sustainable services for many years to come. We will continue to work together to expedite the process as much as practically possible and to ensure a positive outcome for both outsourced workers and University staff.

Once brought in-house, our outsourced workforce will benefit significantly through direct employment by the University with greater stability, job security, career development and progression, better terms and conditions, workforce policies, and fairer working practices.

We will of course keep members updated with our progress.

UCU and UNISON, Senate House branches

Showing solidarity with outsourced workers at Senate House this week

We passed a motion at our branch meeting on 19 April 2018 to show our support for bringing workers currently outsourced back in-house. The motion suggested what UCU members could do if they want to show solidarity with outsourced workers taking strike action on Wednesday and Thursday this week (25-26 April). Colleagues should remain aware of the rules around secondary action.

Here are some things that UCU branch members wishing to show solidarity CAN do:

  • Go outside and mingle with colleagues at lunchtime on Wednesday and learn more about some of the problems with outsourcing. You can do this during your lunch or join some of us at 1pm…look for the UCU banner on the Russell Square side of the building;
  • Join a planned protest outside Senate House after work at 5pm on Wednesday;
  • Donate directly to the IWGB strike fund.

At last week’s branch meeting, UCU members were also briefed on the remit of the FM Services Review Steering Group. Membership of this group includes UCU, and we remain committed to furthering our aim of bringing all workers back in-house through this mechanism.

 

#IWD2018: rally on Russell Square and a special guest on the picket line

International Women’s Day: a movement that started in 1908

One of the reasons we celebrate on this day are the courageous women who took mass strike action against poor working conditions in New York in 1908. According to the United Nations, the events of 1908 paved the way for the annual global event we celebrate today.

This lunchtime, members of Senate House UCU branch joined a large crowd in Russell Square for London Women’s Strike. Various speakers made the connection between female struggle and the current pension dispute.

 

 

#IWD2018: a special guest on the picket line

This morning, we were joined on the Senate House picket line by Louise Regan, President of the National Education Union (NUT Section). Louise is in London at the moment for the annual Trade Union Conference (TUC) women’s conference, but started the day by spending around 45 minutes with us setting up the picket lines, and talking about #IWD2018 and the need for greater recognition and public discussion around how cuts to pension schemes particularly affect women in the workforce.

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