Launch of UoL Worldwide Change Management

The unions have been notified change management in UoL Worldwide is starting. Members in UoLW may have heard a presentation by Craig a little earlier this morning confirming this. 

Phase 1 of this involves approximately 20 staff in UoL Worldwide and puts a few jobs at risk of redundancy. Formal consultation has started for those members of staff affected.

Craig suggested that phase 2 will last three to six months, could involve JD changes for the majority of the rest of the staff base, but is not designed to reduce headcount – he confirmed that everyone in scope will have a job in the new structure. We are clarifying the formal consultation timelines covering phase 2.  Unions received documentation in advance in line with the change management policy, and we have given some initial feedback.

If you are included in a change management proposal, what are my rights and what support is available from the union? 

  1.  The University must follow its change management policy. Read through it, it’s useful for colleagues to know what it says. 
     
  2. ‘Informal heads up’. If your post is at risk of redundancy, management will generally give you an informal heads up shortly before the consultation period begins. This avoids a situation where you find out that your job is at risk during a public meeting. 
     
  3. Kick off meeting. This is where management formally announces the proposals. Union reps will be present. Supporting paperwork must be provided to you at this stage. Efforts must be made to engage with colleagues who are on maternity leave, sick leave, on furlough, and so on. We expect that these meetings will give colleagues a meaningful chance to ask questions. For example, use of video/audio rather than instant message. Kick off meetings need to be a two-way dialogue. 
     
  4. We can call a group meeting of members, or staff in a team/department more broadly, to facilitate a conversation between colleagues about proposed changes. Such meetings can be open, i.e. not just for union members. This helps us plan what questions to ask at group meetings and what points to make to HR/management. Taking part in a group meeting can also help you prepare for any one-to-one meeting you’ll need to attend. Contact us if you want this. 
  5. We can also request follow-up staff meetings with management. Sometimes colleagues will have lots of significant questions very shortly after the kick off of a process. And so requesting a meeting at which management are required to answer important questions of a collective nature can provide some clarity early on. Contact us if you want this. 
     
  6. Anyone included within scope of change management is also entitled to individual consultation. If your job is identified as at risk of redundancy, the University will invite you to a one-to-one meeting and you can be accompanied by a rep; if your job is not at risk of redundancy but is proposed to change (e.g. move team, substantially altered JD), you can request a one-to-one meeting at which you’re accompanied by a rep. If you fall into the second group, we would strongly encourage you to take up your right to a one-to-one meeting in order to seek influence over the proposals. In both cases, if your first one-to-one doesn’t give you the answers or information you are looking for in order to give an informed view about the proposals, request a second one. Use your right to individual consultation fully and ask your union rep for help. 
Recommend a friend As always, please continue to share UCU emails with colleagues to raise awareness of Union activity as we believe there is strength in numbers, now more so than ever. Colleagues wishing to join UCU can do so online, but committee members welcome questions from anyone who has any.

Join the WhatsApp group!
Follow this link to join our Branch WhatsApp Group: https://chat.whatsapp.com/HjNGjNtZROR5RhbcBXbKJe

Sincerely,
UCU Senate House Branch Committee
 

(Probably) the final UCU Branch update of 2020

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL!

In 2020, branch membership increased by 11%, staff on levels 6 and below enjoyed their first year of 30 days annual leave (negotiated + fought for by unions), cleaners and security staff became university staff (negotiated + fought for by unions) and we worked very hard to resist redundancies through change management and secured some minor wins (e.g. improved VR terms) in relation to this. 

It’s been a gruelling year for UoL staff, not least as COVID has forced us to adapt the way we work in ways we could never have imagined. Our new VC has established a new and very ambitious strategy.

At least four major change management programmes were instigated, and the way they were handled by university management leaves a lot to be desired.

We’ve had a number of very well-attended branch meetings. On Wednesday we passed a motion that resolves:

  • to call for an immediate commitment from the University of London Senior Management that there will be no compulsory redundancies resulting from restructuring.
  • to review the situation, and report back to members in the new year after the results of the new VR scheme have been made available.
  • to lodge a dispute and prepare for industrial action if the employer does not rule out compulsory redundancies.
  • to demand the University of London extends the VR deadline beyond the 5th of January so that colleagues have more time and information to consider their futures.

At our ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING on 28th January, members can shape the composition of the branch committee for the new year. This is an important milestone in what will be a trying 2021. A union branch is only as strong as the members who step forward and help us do the work that brings about change.

If you want to get more involved in UCU Senate House, there’s no better time than 2021.

We are going to go into 2021 fighting the same fights we were fighting in 2020. So rest up and enjoy your time off. But we’d ask you to consider a question before we return: “What one thing can I do next year to make my union stronger?”.

We look forward to hearing your answers!

UCU Senate House Branch Committee

Dispute with Employer

Dear members

Following the last branch members meeting, we immediately informed management, formally, of our intention to enter dispute unless they commit to no compulsory redundancies and improved Voluntary Severance (Redundancy) terms.

We were able to do that because of the huge mandate that you as members gave us when passing the following motion:

Senate House UCU Motion
PROPOSED BY SENATE HOUSE BRANCH COMMITTEE

Branch notes

  • The University of London has begun a process of restructuring which they claim is part of realising the new strategy, the restructuring requires that the University of London produce a “balanced budget”.
  • This follows years of ‘planned deficit’, to allow UoL to set up projects such as Co-Sector, which have never delivered the financial returns promised. Unfortunately, this ‘planning’ did not include a contingency for this, and so money to plug the gap is being sought from a reduction in the staff budget.
  • The University of London plans savings of over £9m, with half of that coming from staff savings. We believe this puts over 100 members of staff across the organisation at risk of redundancy.
  • Departments have been asked to make savings of between 10% and 20% with little consideration(other than with change management procedures) on what that means for the running of the organisation, or reassessing Organisational priorities.
  • Two of the restructure consultations launched propose an increase in new higher graded roles.
  • The University of London continues to invest in property, in this time of ‘dire financial straits’ at the expense of its staff members, despite the future viability of this business model being at risk.
  • Despite making continued ‘investment’ in property, the University of London cannot afford a respectful Voluntary Redundancy package for staff, being made redundant in the worst economic situation in decades.
  • The University of London has actively WORSENED its Voluntary Redundancy scheme since the crisis, in direct contrast to many higher education institutions, including those in rose financial positions. VCEG tells us that this is all ‘they feel they can afford’ But a rumoured £1.5M seems to have been found to purchase back the lease of Faber & Faber buildings from SOAS.
  • UCU and UNISON attempted to find solutions to some of these issues through extraordinary JNCCs triggered by local dispute mechanisms.
  • Our branch participated in an indicative vote on a union response to these issues.
    • 96.7% of respondents said that it is right for us to go into formal dispute with our employer over the terms for voluntary redundancy.
    • 78.9% of respondents said that they would be prepared to consider Industrial Action in the event of compulsory redundancy in order to fight to protect jobs and ensure better VR terms.
  • The University of London UCU and UNISON branches have written to the University of London senior management on numerous occasions reiterating opposition to compulsory redundancies, requesting an urgent meeting with financial data informing course and job cuts as well as the measures the University of London intends to take to mitigate redundancies.

Branch believes

  • Academic and Professional service staff cuts will affect the ability of the University of London to achieve the goals set out in its strategy.
  • Cuts to and closure of world-renowned institutes will diminish the University of London and reduce its distinctiveness as a centre for excellence.
  • The current VR offering is not respectful of staff, many of whom have made great sacrifices to ensure the success of the University over decades, and recently, in the face of the pandemic.
  • The current VR offering is not the best the University can afford, and offering more favourable terms would, likely, avoid the need for compulsory redundancies through change management processes.
  • The restructuring process has been deeply flawed with departments given savings targets that are unattainable without significant redundancies. Detailed financial data, equality impact assessments, revised job descriptions, detailed plans, or populated structure diagrams for the overall process were not given to the recognised trade unions in advance of discussions, or indeed at the launch of change management processes.
  • The University of London UCU should continue to support campaigns calling for government intervention or to support higher education and institutions like the University of London through the COVID-19 crisis.

Branch resolves

  • This branch calls for an immediate commitment from the University of London Senior Management that there will be no compulsory redundancies resulting from restructuring.
  • This branch calls for an immediate improvement to the terms of the current VR policy and to extend this option to all members of staff, including those immediately impacted by live change management processes, to ensure that those staff who do seek to explore this option have a viable way to survive being made redundant, and that redeployment to unoccupied roles is more viable an option.
  • This branch reaffirms its commitment to opposing compulsory redundancies.
  • The branch instructs the branch committee to seek such commitments but in the absence of such a commitment, to move forward to formal dispute and to prepare for industrial action if compulsory redundancies are announced; involving a statutory ballot for one or more of the following: strike action, external marking boycott, ASOS. The ballot to be launched as soon as possible.

We are pleased to say that UNISON has also passed a similar motion and communicated it to management.

We are awaiting a response from management and will be going forward into formal dispute this week if we do not have anything satisfactory to come back to members with.

UCU Senate House Committee

Disappointing emergency-JNCC meeting outcomes: pay freeze, VR, possible redundancies

Updates from two emergency JNCC meetings held in September 2020

Today the recognised unions attended the second of two Extraordinary Joint Negotiation and Consultation Committee (JNCC) meetings, the method through which Management and the Unions reach agreements on staff-facing changes. These were called at the JNCC meeting held in July, where the changes to incremental freezes and a more detrimental Voluntary Redundancy scheme were not agreed to because Management have failed to produce the information requested by the Unions, in order to enable members to make informed decisions.

What is clear is the following:

  1. There is a lack of parity of detriment to staff pay in the face of COVID-19
    • The seven or so members of VCEG (max 7 members staff on salaries over £100K) have taken voluntary salary cut of 10%
    • Staff on L10 and not in VCEG (including a minimum of 9 members of staff on £100+K) are not receiving their cost of living increase, in line with that negotiated by JNCHES, so estimated to be a max of 1%. (However, National Pay increase is set at 0%)
    • Everyone else, circa 1,000 staff, on Spine points 16 – 54 have had a cut in salary imposed, without any formal agreement being reached. The pause to incremental increases plus lack on National Pay Increase (agreed each year by JNCHES) is roughly 4.6% per person.
    • The majority of the highest paid members of staff are therefore suffering the least financial detriment.
  2. A new voluntary redundancy (VR) scheme is being introduced for those within the scope of any change management plan:
    • For some staff, the level of VR payment will effectively be the statutory minimum, without the cap on the total amount to be paid.
    • Statutory minimum is the least an employer can pay, without it being illegal.
    • This is approximately a 75% reduction to VR terms previously used by University of London, meaning that for each £1 a member of staff would have previously received, they will now only get 25p.
    • This is far below that being offered by other members of the Federation, including those facing immediate significant financial difficulties. In today’s meeting, we presented evidence showing that current VR terms at UoL are around 33% less generous than those at LSE, half as generous as those at Queen Mary, 3.5 to 4 times less generous than those at Goldsmiths, and 4 to 5 times less generous than those at SOAS. These are all schemes that have been active since COVID hit.
    • The Recognised Unions have not agreed to what UoL is currently offering but we are being told they cannot afford more, as paying out too much now will mean they may have to make greater staff cuts in the future.
    • No specific evidence to support the University’s position has been presented, no benchmarking data, and no comment on why UoL terms are less favourable than institutions whose financial position is arguably worse than ours.
  3. There are likely to be redundancies in the future:
    • This has been stated publicly in the Town Halls.
    • The Recognised Unions have received no information to confirm the overall scope of any intended redundancies.
    • The Recognised Unions have received no information to confirm that any area is outside of the scope of these redundancies.

Whether intentional or coincidental, there is a slow erosion of the rights and working conditions of those at the lower spine points, whilst those at the highest continue to only feel a pinch they consent to.

We need YOU to tell us what you want!
What is fair? Should the majority of those earning the most have their pay cut than those earning the least? Should a VR scheme that is barely above the lowest legally permitted go through as the sector faces the most financially unstable time in recent history? Or, would it perhaps be fair for the University tell staff what the plans for future redundancies are, so that Recognised Unions can engage in meaningful negotiations, to protect the most jobs?

If you’ve answer ‘yes’ to any of the above, we need you to join our next members meeting and tell us.

Please also use the anonymous ‘Ask a question’ function at Monday’s Town Hall to ask anything you want.

The University is failing to uphold the spirit of Recognition Agreement with its Recognised Unions and therefore leaving no option but to inform members of what is going on, so we can have the necessary conversations publicly.

It is your future, tell us what you want us to fight for.

VR and Pay Freeze

Pay freeze consultation

Since we last wrote to you on 17 July, the same day as our most recent letter to VCEG,

• the university closed its consultation on the pay freeze,
• we met with Chris Cobb and HR on Tue 21 July to raise comments and concerns, and
• we received a written response to our representations shortly before the

During our meeting with Chris Cobb and HR, it was acknowledged that the pay freeze represents a change to our T&Cs. This was the first time we had heard acknowledgement from the University that this was the case; this was repeated by the VC at Monday’s Town Hall.

Typically, a change to our T&Cs requires our consent. The consultation exercise may have been an attempt by the University to seek to evidence that staff were agreeing to this change. However, in our representations to the University, we were clear that our engagement should not be interpreted as agreement. We accept that COVID-19 is impacting University budgets in new and significant ways, but we would also argue that the University made no meaningful attempt to negotiate with us on this matter. There’s a clear difference between consultation and negotiation.

We requested sight of the Equality Impact Assessment. This has not been provided; instead, equalities statistics have been given, the validity of which we have concerns about as outlined in our latest letter to VCEG (currently being prepared).

Also, very few of the specific and reasonable questions we’ve been asking on your behalf were answered. On Monday, we received just a page and a half of answers to ‘frequently asked’ questions.

Voluntary redundancy proposal

On Friday, HR shared details of a proposed VR formula applicable for the coming months. For upcoming restructures, they have proposed:

Actual (gross) weekly pay x length of service x 1.5
(with length of service is rounded up/down to the nearest full-year)

We are doing some additional research to compare this proposal with what equivalent universities are offering, but our initial view is that this falls significantly short of what is being offered elsewhere at the moment through similar schemes.

It’s important we know what you think about this offer in order to inform our position over the coming days and weeks, so please do get in touch.

UCU Senate House Committee

Feedback on employer statement

We’ve been hearing from many of you in the last few days about statements made by University of London Senior Leadership.

We share in your immense frustration at the lack of detail and lack of engagement with us in making these statements. Unions did not see the detail of that proposal until the evening before and so we have had no opportunity to provide feedback until now.

We will of course be scrutinising the detail of this proposal and ask for your immediate feedback to help us understand what our membership think.

We would strongly encourage you to submit any feedback on the proposal, whether general or in light of your personal circumstance, via UCU (and anonymously) here: https://forms.gle/kxNyfmGqwUxr7KSg7.

We find ourselves in challenging times and there is strength and protection in raising our issues collectively through the mechanisms of the union.

Branch AGM

As well as discussing all of our successes and challenges in 2019, the AGM is also a time when we, as a branch, elect our new committee.

As delighted as I am with the depth and talent of this committee, we are still looking to fill the role of Branch Secretary. We also have another space for UCU’s second representative on the University of London’s safety committee. If you wish to enquire about either of these positions then do let us know by emailing ucu@london.ac.uk.

I’m pleased to announce that the following members have been duly elected:

  • Chair – Tim Hall
  • Vice Chair – Elizabeth Savage
  • Treasurer – Kumar Singaravelou
  • Membership Secretary – Huw Morgan Jones
  • Equality Officer – Sarah Thorniley
  • Health and Safety Officer – Liz Wilkinson
  • Ordinary member – Tim Wade
  • Ordinary member (Careers Group) – Philippa Hewett
  • Ordinary member (IHR Rep) – Matt Shaw
  • Ordinary member (Warburg Rep) – Nessa Malone
  • Ordinary member – Nicholas Matheou
  • Co-opted member (IES Rep) – Christopher Ohge
  • Co-opted member (IMLR Rep) – Elizabeth Dearnley

Finally a huge thank you to all of you who volunteered on the committee last year.

Dates and terms for in-housing of cleaners and security staff at Senate House, University of London

UCU & UNISON

After more than 2 years of negotiation and continued scrutiny of the University of London’s plans, we have received written confirmation from the University of its plans to return cleaners and security staff back to its direct employment. This represents real progress. The key features of the University of London’s commitment include:

  • Security staff to be in-house by May 2020.
  • Cleaning staff to be in-house by November 2020.
  • In-housing of staff will not be subject to the previously-used methodology of market testing where in-housing is conditional on favourable comparisons with external bids.
  • Work has commenced on these tranches of in-housing. We understand that the current contractors have already been informed of last week’s Board of Trustee’s decision and that meetings are being organised to discuss the TUPE process requirements.
  • The Unions have challenged the decision to keep the Estates Maintenance Services contracted out to a specialist supplier. The Unions will continue to scrutinise and challenge this outcome.

Of course, promises are worthless unless they are followed through. We hereby commit to scrutinising every step of the TUPE process to the best of our ability, and to doing what we can to hold the University to the new commitments it has made.

That said, we do believe that the University’s commitments are genuine and that this agreement should lead to serious discussions about the terms for suspending the boycott.

The boycott has unintentionally focused on events organised by union members at the School of Advanced Study. Many of these members are on precarious contracts and the additional work-related stress caused by the boycott has impacted on their mental health and wellbeing.

Senate House, University of London in-housing campaign: significant progress made for cleaners and security staff

The Senate House branches of UCU and UNISON welcome the decision made by the Board of Trustees to support the Vice Chancellor’s commitment to insource our colleagues in the Cleaning and Security teams, which was announced today.

This is a significant step forward by the University of London and we will continue to engage with the larger in-housing process and of course be scrutinising the decision around estates management.

We look forward to working with the Vice-Chancellor and her team during the insourcing process and recognise the dedication and commitment of all those involved in ensuring we have collectively reached this point.

We look forward to welcoming our colleagues back in house.

Outcome of 4 July branch meeting: Senate House boycott

In this post, we summarise motions that were debated and passed at a branch meeting on 4 July 2019. These motions (full text at the end of the post) mostly relate to the Senate House Boycott (motions 2, 3, 4).

Motion 1 relates to a victory for UCU Senate House. We called on the University to consider introducing a standardised package of post-contract support for research-active staff reaching the end of their contracts. This new policy will be implemented soon. At the meeting, we reported to members that an earlier motion on this subject went to UCU Congress 2019 and was passed unanimously. We are not claiming that this is the answer to casualization, but we would encourage UCU branches around the country to negotiate for similar policies.

Motions 2, 3 and 4 call on all parties to find the common ground needed to bring the Senate House Boycott to an end.

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