Wednesday, 14 March 2018

UCU Strike - Update

Our colleagues at UCU have just announced that they have rejected the proposals made by Universities UK’s (UUK) to amend the changes to the USS Pension Scheme and the strike remains on.

UNISON Senate House Branch supports UCU’s fight against these changes, which will leave the scheme’s members significantly worse off in retirement. We are pleased to report that we have submitted the results of our consultative ballot to the National Officer and our national Service Group Executive will be considering the results and our next steps on Monday. The results of our ballot are overwhelmingly to reject the UUK proposals.

As previously advised, although non-UCU members are not protected by Industrial Action legislation, the University have confirmed that they will not discipline non-UCU members who choose not to cross the picket line, although you would lose a day’s pay. We are proud to support our sister union and of our members who have chosen to do so by not crossing the picket line.

Regardless of whether or not you are refusing to cross the picket line, or are in USS, SAUL or another scheme, the UNISON Senate House Branch are calling on all members to show solidarity and support to our UCU colleagues. This Wednesday 14 March and Thursday 15 March, we ask you to come down to the UCU picket line on Malet Street either before work or during your break (i.e non-working hours to prevent deduction of pay), anytime from 8.30am to 10.30am to support your colleagues and showing them that they are not alone! Join us on the UCU picket line on the Malet Street entrance to Senate House to show solidarity.

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

UCU Strike – Open Letter from UNISON Senate House Branch to University of London Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Adrian Smith

Dear Vice Chancellor and esteemed colleagues,

We are writing this letter on behalf of the UNISON branch committee at Senate House, University of London to support the UCU Senate House Branch in seeking a public expression of the University’s position on the current UUK and UCU dispute about the USS pension scheme.

We note the Vice-Chancellor's recent announcement on SharePoint welcoming the talks between UCU and UUK. However, we feel this statement doesn’t address the points UCU raised in their open letter to you on 1 March 2018.

We would like to support UCU in requesting that the University circulate a further message to all staff declaring the following points:
  1. That September 2017’s valuation is revisited and that independent and external opinion is sought, including from the academic community. This is to ensure that UCU and UUK can negotiate on the basis of an agreed foundation of evidence, including financial assumptions.
  2. That the planned USS member consultation (due to commence 19 March 2018) is suspended while a valuation on which both parties agree is established.
  3. That the outcome to this dispute retains defined benefit as the predominant model for USS pensions.
As UCU have entered a further nine days of strike action commencing yesterday, Monday 5 March 2018, we request an urgent response to this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Franco Henwood
Branch Chair, UNISON Senate House Branch
Ruth Buckingham
Branch Secretary, UNISON Senate House Branch

Friday, 2 March 2018

Solidarity with UCU Senate House Branch

Dear member,

As you know, our colleagues at UCU Senate House are striking against Universities UK’s (UUK) proposed changes to the USS pension scheme.

UNISON Senate House Branch supports UCU’s fight against these changes, which will leave the scheme’s members significantly worse off in retirement.

A consultative ballot is currently underway among all UNISON Higher Education Members on USS; UNISON is urging USS members to vote to reject the current proposals and move to an Industrial Action Ballot and join their UCU colleagues on strike.

Even if you are not in the USS pension scheme, you should care about the outcome of this strike. If UCU loses their fight, then this is bad news. The ending of USS as a defined-benefit scheme may have implications for the longer-term survival of other defined-benefit schemes like SAUL.

What can you do?

As we have stated, the university have confirmed that any UNISON member who refuses to work on a UCU strike day will lose a day’s pay but will not suffer any other penalty (e.g. a disciplinary). No UNISON member is obliged to cross a picket line.

And/or, you can also do the following;

  1. Write to the UoL Vice-Chancellor, Adrian Smith   and state your opposition to both the changes and your support for UCU. Urge him to join VCs at NewcastleEssex and other universities who have urged UUK to consider. Ask him to engage with UCU’s constructive proposals.You can find a template text here.

  1. Write to your MP. Many MPs have already come out in support. UCU have a handy template which you can find here:

  1. Donate to UCU’s finding fund. Our colleagues are going out of pocket to defend their (your) rights. Chip in what you can, here

We will keep members posted as to the outcome of the consultative ballot and what steps UNISON is going to take.

As ever, any queries or questions, then please direct them to

Thursday, 1 February 2018

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

Monday, 22 January 2018

Outsourced Staff - Update

Members will recall that on Weds 21 June 2017 we put our concerns re outsourced staff to management, signalling our intention to begin negotiations to bring staff back in-house. 

The University agreed to review conditions of outsourced staff shortly thereafter.

Since then, UNISON and UCU have been fully involved in the review. After six months of negotiations, we have managed to narrow down the range of options from seven to two, to be presented to the University’s Board of Trustees:

1.      in-sourcing of the 5 contracts included in the review, or

       a mixed provision with some coming in house and some remaining outsourced.

(Maintaining the status quo was one option but both unions were emphatic that this was not acceptable; this option is off the table).

In both cases some work will continue to be outsourced such as specialist maintenance of lifts or specialist compliance inspections.

UNISON will, however, continue to work to ensure all of our members and all outsourced workers are brought in house.

UNISON and UCU will continue to be involved in discussions if these options are taken forward to ensure fair, consistent and detailed analysis are undertaken before any decision is made.

UNISON and UCU  argued that the views of both outsourced and directly employed staff should be considered as part of this review.

As a result, all staff employed by the University will be able to participate in a survey on the current Facilities contractors and the future of these services . If you have any questions or concerns, please get in contact with us.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Cordant Staff Xmas Pay

Prior to Christmas it was brought to the attention of UNISON and UCU that the December payroll for Cordant workers was scheduled to take place after Christmas. Following pro-active engagement and lobbying by the recognised Unions Cordant agreed to run the December payroll before Christmas. As a result all Cordant staff were paid before Christmas in line with other staff working at the UoL.

Friday, 13 October 2017

17th October Pay Lobby and Rally - Letter to UNISON Branch Secretary

Dear Branch Secretary,

Apologies, I am aware that you will have been bombarded with emails from the national office, the national service group and the region on the TUC Pay Lobby and Rally  on 17th October.

However, it is a huge opportunity to put pressure on the Government to change their position and take seriously the issue of public sector pay. Although this year’s pay round for Higher Education has been concluded, next year’s pay claim will be submitted early in the new year- this is also an opportunity to show UCEA that University Support Staff deserve a pay rise!

If you live in a constituency with a Tory MP, please consider lobbying your MP or reaching out to your reps and members and asking them to get involved. Support is available from us if you, your reps or members aren’t sure how to do this.

Even if you or your reps live in a constituency with a Labour MP (or another party), please consider joining the lobby anyway! It’s useful to have allies and to give MPs first hand accounts of the effect of below inflation pay rises.

If you can’t attend the lobby but still want to be part of the Pay campaign, there will be a Rally in the evening 6.30 to 8.30pm in Parliament Square. If you, your reps or members would like to attend, want more information or to meet up with some friendly faces, please get in contact with me or another organiser. Even if you can’t stay for long- show your face and wave a UNISON flag!

Or if you are feeling creative, follow in City University Branch’s footsteps and make your own placards!

If it’s all in hand and your branch has plans in place, please let me, Vicky or Colin know if you haven’t done so already so we can feed this back and get an idea of numbers.

Hopefully see you next week!


Jo Galloway
UNISON Regional Organiser

Secretary to Regional Higher Education Committee

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