Pensions strike: 8 days to go


Dear Members, 

As I’m sure you know, next Thursday 22 Feb marks the beginning of UCU strike action. 

In our meeting on Monday (attended by approximately 110 University of London colleagues and almost 40 UCU members) a few questions were raised about organisation of the picket line. We’ve set up a picket line rota, so please do tell us when you’re available to show your solidarity and give your contact details so we can stay in touch during the strike. Please do this by Friday 16 Feb (or as soon as you can) so we can complete the rota and share with you next Monday/Tuesday:

On the first day of the strike it is so important that as many of us are on the picket line as possible. So the first day’s instructions are very simple. 

Where: Outside the gates of Senate House (Russell Square side)

When: 8am

We’ll provide placards and banners but if you’re feeling creative then bring your own! Wear warm and waterproof clothes!

Meanwhile, tomorrow (Thursday 15th) at 6pm, we will attend the UCU London Region Strike Organising workshop  – if you’d like to join us, email so we can arrange a meeting point.

All the best,

Tim Hall
Branch Chair


12 February: meeting for all University of London staff about USS pension changes

When: Monday 12 February, 12-1pm
Where: Room G22, Senate House

UCU (Senate House branch) invite all University of London staff to

  • Hear from Christine Haswell, National Pension Official for UCU
  • Find out why there is no real justification for changes to the USS pension scheme
  • Learn why UCU is taking industrial action over pensions
  • Understand what the union is doing, nationally and locally, in response to this issue
  • Ask questions about how the changes might affect you

Can’t attend or have questions? Email 

Image credit:

UNISON Senate House and Edexcel Branch and Senate House UCU FM Services Review: Submission to the Board of Trustees


As the recognised Trade Unions representing all staff at the University of London, both UNISON and UCU branch committees have consistently argued that the University should end outsourcing and bring all outsourced workers back in-house.  Our members in both the outsourced companies and the University strongly support our position. We assert that the outsourced workforce would benefit significantly through direct employment by the University, through greater stability and job security, career development and progression, better terms and conditions and workforce policies as well as fairer working practises.

UNISON and UCU pressed the University on the 21st June 2017 to reconsider and reassess all outsourced contracts and welcomed the FM Services review. UNISON’s successful campaigns and decisions made at SOAS and LSE to bring services In-House demonstrate that the tide is turning across the Higher Education sector and that the University of London is in a unique position to lead the way. The recent collapse of Carrillion raises serious questions regarding the risks of awarding of contracts to private companies and potential consequences of doing so.

UNISON and UCU urge the Board of Trustees to take steps to bring all outsourced workers back in house in a timely manner, whilst also acknowledging that some limited specialist services may remain outsourced and are willing to work with the University to determine the scope of this.

In addition to our assertions that the outsourced workforce would benefit greatly from being directly employed by the University, we ask the Board of Trustees to take into account the following when considering the recommendations of the steering group:

  • An In-House provision offers greater flexibility and an ability to adapt to new circumstances without major cost revisions. The University would be able to respond to changing needs, priorities, emergencies and opportunities without lengthy delays or having to pay a premium.
  • Through an in-house provision, the University will have greater control over the quality and efficiency of services delivered. It would also ensure greater co-ordination and integration with other departments within the University, such as the Halls of Residences, Marketing, Conference and Events Teams as well as  Student Central. This would allow for greater innovation and potentially a more lucrative commercial offering.
  • Delivering services in-house will ensure fair work practices, oversight of the implementation of Living Wage payment for the lowest paid staff and fair pay awards and grading, as well as secure forms of employment.
  • The review has uncovered key issues regarding monitoring of contracts, service delivery and KPIs and a lack of governance structure within the University. In order to rectify this, the University will need to invest additional resource. However, even with additional inspection, monitoring and use of contractual procedures, this is no substitute for having direct control over quality and delivery.
  • An assessment of risks and costs should include a consideration of the cost of contractor failure (as demonstrated by the recent Carillion insolvency) as well as the costs of procurement, for example legal fees, consultant’s fees, staff time spent on negotiation and mobilisation that would be avoided through an in-house solution.
  • Changing contractor every three to five years is therefore costly as well as disruptive both to the outsourced workers and the University.

UNISON and UCU continue to engage in the FM Review Steering Group in good faith, and will continue to be involved in discussions and negotiations so long as an In-House service remains on the table in order to ensure a fair, consistent and detailed analysis is undertaken before any decision is made.

Franco Henwood, UNISON Chair
Tim Hall, UCU Chair
UNISON and UCU Senate House Branches, 29 Jan 2018

Join the campaign for reinstating s40 of the Equality Act 2010 now!

UCU campaigns against all forms of sexual harassment and violence in the workplace and wider society.


1. Download our guidance on how to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace and support members who experience it here

2. Negotiate for implementation the Model domestic violence policy here

3. Register for our training course ‘Dealing with Sexual Harassment in the workplace’. Visit our training pages for further information at

4. Sign the Fawcett Society petition here

Sexual harassment: a new helpline for UCU members

A message from Sally Hunt

Following the statement from the National Executive Committee condemning sexual violence and harassment, I can now confirm that the helpline to provide support to those experiencing sexual harassment and any reps who may want counselling support in supporting members is now launched.

This is a dedicated service for UCU members which any UCU member can reach on 0800 138 8724. The helpline is in collaboration with Education Support Partnership (Ed Support). Any member who has concerns or is experiencing sexual harassment can call 0800 138 8724 in confidence, free of charge and 24/7 to talk about their experience, discuss options, receive counselling (if clinically appropriate) and details of further sources of support, if necessary.

This is in addition to the workplace support from your branch. The helpline is an opportunity to discuss confidentiality your experience and talk through what you want to do next which may include asking your branch to support you take action against your employer. Many branches are now creating a named contact for sexual harassment cases and we are urging branches to adopt this approach and the model policy.

UCU is fully committed to eradicating sexual violence and harassment. Please call if you need to – we want to support you in every way we can.

What to expect when calling the service

  • The call handlers will read out a confidentiality and code of ethics statement, take a few details and will ask you to discuss the issue you are experiencing. Ed Support’s specialists assess each call individually to locate the best course of action for you. Please note that if you request a call-back or are expecting a follow up call from the helpline this will appear on your phone as a withheld number for confidentiality reasons.
  • If you need to get back in touch or enquire about a call-back to the service, please ring 0800 138 8724 or email please include UCU Sexual Harassment Helpline in your email subject and in the body of the email so they direct you to the right place.
  • If the lines are particularly busy or out of hours you may find that your call is answered by a specialist in a global service centre. This is to make sure as many calls are answered as possible so distressed callers are not being put through to an answer machine. Please rest assured that all specialists are suitably qualified and trained and your call will be handled in the best way possible.

Download a guide for guide for dealing with sexual harassment in the workplace with sexual harassment in the workplace.

Continued squeeze on living standards: can you afford a cut to your pension?

cost of livingOfficial figures indicate that the Retail Prices Index (RPI) rose to a six-year high of 4.1% in December 2017. Given the continual pressure on members’ pay, which increased by 1.7% in 2017 and 1.1% in 2016, we continue to lose money in real terms each year.

To find out which of the 14 items in the ‘basket of goods’ that make up the RPI are the most affected, read January’s FACT service report.

In light of this, can you really afford cuts to your pension of up to 40%? UCU have announced 14 days of industrial action after talks with Universities UK (UUK) about the future of USS’s defined benefits (DB) pension ended without agreement.

UCU Senate House is setting up an emergency meeting of UCU members in the run up to the strike. We’ll be in touch once arrangements have been confirmed.

Strikes now look like a reality as pension talks end


Dear Members,

As many of you have expressed, there’s a widespread feeling of betrayal by University leaders. UCU are disappointed at how talks ended, particularly after UUK suggested that it wanted more talks to avoid strikes.

We can expect to see continued destruction of our pensions every three years for the foreseeable future as this move, if implemented, will undermine the scheme and thus enter us into cycle of worsening financial performance.

Universities must be on notice that unless there are dramatic changes in their negotiators’ position then strike action will be arriving next month.

You’ll be receiving updates from UCU shortly about this and locally we’re planning to announce a meeting for all staff who risk losing this most treasured benefit.