Friday, 14 December 2012

Living Wage uplift for contracted workers at the University

BBW steward Henry Chango Lopez speaking at the branch's June 30th Fiesta to celebrate the implementation of the London Living Wage.

Senate House branch is mentioned on the Unison website after the University agreed to bring in the London Living Wage uplift (from £8.30 to £8.55 per hour) five months earlier than it had to - staff working for Balfour Beatty and Aramark should receive this in their December pay packets, backdated to the 1st November 2012.

Good news for our colleagues at London Met too who have secured a similar deal from their management.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

TODAY - outsourced workers campaign meeting

MP John McDonnell speaking at the June 30th social to celebrate the implementation of the London Living Wage.

At the last Branch Committee, the Senate House Unison branch took a democratic decision to fully support the ‘3 Cosas’ campaign. We agreed to approach Balfour Beatty as soon as possible to open negotiations about the 3 issues that are at the heart of the campaign – sick pay, holiday pay and pensions – and we now need to plan the next campaigning  and media activity.
We want to ensure that your negotiators are clear on what resolving these issues would mean to you and which of the issues are the priorities. We are therefore holding a meeting of all UNISON members in Balfour Beatty where you can have your say. The branch also agreed to seek to protect, unchanged, the terms and conditions of those BBW workers employed under terms and conditions resulting from the TUPE transfer of University employees.
Meeting: Tuesday 4th December, 6-8pm
Lecture Theatre (L1 floor)
17 Russell Square
Guest Speaker – Roger Mackenzie UNISON Assistant General Secretary

Monday, 5 November 2012

Living wage week

The first ever UK wide celebration of the Living Wage & Living Wage Employers is taking place this week, 4-10 November 2012.

You can see full details of how the Living Wage Foundation intends to mark the week here -

Meanwhile the Boris Johnson has announced the new LLW rate - £8.55 / hour -

As I'm sure you all know, the University of London became a LLW employer this July - and are committed to implementing this and future increases for all employees, including outsourced workers.

Do get in touch if you'd like to know more about the LLW and associated campaigns -

Friday, 2 November 2012

As UNISON members you’re entitled to cheaper Home Insurance with UIA Home Insurance

A message from our Welfare Officer:

I have personally used UIA for my contents insurance for over 2 years as it’s three times cheaper than my building society’s and bank’s insurers.

As I live in London and my specific area was deemed at ‘high risk’ for burglaries it was impossible to get a contents quote for anything under the £30 - £45 range.

(In my case) UIA Insurance was cheaper than Churchill and Think Insurance (offering £25,000 more coverage than its closest rival when I compared quotes online etc.)

Having previously been insured (no claims) with Churchill for 5 years they couldn’t compete with UIA even to keep my custom.

I’ve been insured with UIA for 3 years now. They were fast and fair on a recent claim too.

They offer more coverage than many leading competitors like Direct Line, The Post office etc. I am currently paying £12 a month for 10 months of the year full contents.

UIA is also great for travel insurance.  I’m taking a week’s holiday outside Europe. I’m paying £10.50. This includes claims of up to £2,000 000 for accident insurance. The amount covers flight cancellations, lost baggage, bad weather etc.

I very much recommend insuring with them. I’ve calculated that my general home insurance more than pays for my UNISON subs overall!

Please go to UIA Insurance:  for a quote or call 0800 0121 591. You will need to hold current UNISON Membership to get a quote.

**UIA has a new customer introductory offer of 12 months Home Insurance for the price of 10***

If you want to take up this offer, and need to join UNISON to do so, please contact for more information.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Just three days to go...

...until the TUC anti-austerity march against spending cuts and job losses on Saturday 20th October.

Senate House branch will be joining our fellow higher education Unison branches and the University of London Union and joining the feeder march starting in Malet Street, assembling at 11 am in Malet Street. Please join the march and help build a huge demonstration to show the government just how destructive and unpopular their austerity agenda is.

If you are on facebook you can join the education bloc event here: or join the TUC event here:!/events/181510105308324/

We look forward to seeing you there!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

3Cosas Campaign: Sick Pay, Holidays, Pensions

Thanks to everyone who supported our successful campaign to have the London Living Wage implemented at the University of London.

This finally happened in July - and your help was crucial in pressurising the University.

However, our contracted workers are, in terms of sick pay, holidays, pensions, payslip problems, workplace bullying and a host of other issues the outsourced workers are still much worse off than University employees.

There are three areas ('3 cosas') where the disparity between University and contract workers is greatest - SICK PAY, HOLIDAYS and PENSIONS.

Workers have now launched a new campaign to persuade  the University to ensure that all workers have the same rights in these three areas.

It is eminently affordable, and it is the only right thing to do.

This campaign has the full support of Senate House UNISON - please like the Facebook page ( and sign the petition ( if you have not already done so.

Any questions OR if you want to help  - do get in touch with me at

Saturday, 22 September 2012

New College of the Humanities Protest - 1pm, Monday 24 September, Bedford Square

Why should you be bothered about the New College of the Humanities – AC Grayling’s for-profit college which will be opening next week in Bedford Square?

The New College of the Humanities doesn’t have its own syllabus or library – instead, it will tutor students through a University of London external degree, with students paying to use Senate House Library – piggy-backing on the work done by University of London staff in the Library and the International Academy.

But of more concern is the fact that NCHUM comprises both the high-profile college and a separate arm – a for-profit company called Tertiary Education Services Limited. This is a shared services company – basically, a company which expects to make money by taking over outsourced services in higher education, everything from admin to library services.

At the University of London we’ve already seen that outsourcing our facilities, maintenance and catering services doesn’t work – it squeezes the workers’ pay and conditions and delivers a worse service for everyone. As other institutions in UK Higher Ed struggle to survive against aggressive privatisation, it’s vital that we fight every attempt to privatise within our sector in order to preserve jobs and working conditions for all of our members.

Please join the protest on Monday if you can.

Monday 24 September at 1pm, Bedford Square (just round the corner!).

Friday, 7 September 2012

Pay dispute - the saga continues

Sorry to bother you (and apologies for cross-posting) - I just wanted to keep you up-to-date with developments re the pay dispute…

Next week the UNISON ballot opens (and I believe so does the UCU one – but UCU members may be able to clarify that for me).

The branch, and UNISON in general, is strongly urging people to vote YES to strike action.

  • We’re currently being offered a 1% pay rise – following rises of 0.5%, 0.4% and £150 in the last three years.
  • In the same time living costs have risen 12%.

At the same time the University of London’s most recent financial report (for 2010-11) shows:

  • Surplus for 2010-11: £4.1 million
  • General reserve (what’s in the bank account): £93 million
  • VC’s salary – £163,000 in 2011 plus benefits - £174,000 in all (for a 3 day week)
  • Income has risen over the last 5 years by over 25% - from c£110m in 2007 to c£145m in 2011
  • Yet staff costs have remained the same – so relative to income they have fallen dramatically.

So they CAN afford it, and without it we are getting POORER AND POORER each year.

So – if you are in UNISON please vote YES, and if not please VOTE full stop.

No ballot? Let me know! (

If you are in UCU your committee will be in touch re your ballot.

If you are in neither PLEASE JOIN – feel free to contact me with any questions.

Depending on the outcome of the ballot the provisional plan is a TWO-DAY STRIKE ON THE 18th AND 19th OF OCTOBER.

Best wishes, and have a nice weekend…


Monday, 3 September 2012

Support the cleaners at Societe General - this Thursday, 5pm, Tower Hill...

See below for a report from the Industrial Workers of Great Britain

IWGB called a protest in solidarity with our members employed as cleaners at Societe Generale by the contractor Initial Facilities on 29 August. Following an assurance by Societe Generale, eventually confirmed by Initial Facilities that their planned cuts were suspended we cancelled the protest and suspended our campaign.

A meeting with Initial Facilities management has been finally arranged. However, Initial Facilities management have since informed our members that the cuts will be going ahead in a few weeks, some cleaners were told to look at alternatives to working at Societe Generale.

Furthermore, despite Initial Facilities previously stating that the London Living Wage of £8.30 per-hour will be introduced from 3rd September 2012, repeated requests by the IWGB for assurances this will still be the case have been completely ignored. Confirming our view that the pay rise is conditional on an over 50% cut in hours, amounting to a wage cut.

Our union is appalled at the ongoing treatment of one of our young members who has been sacked by Initial Facilities in the most questionable of circumstances. We are demanding his immediate reinstatement. Having considered this situation the IWGB can not see justification to continue the suspension of the campaign in the UK and other countries until we achieve a settlement of this dispute satisfactory to our members at Societe Generale. We apologise to all those who heard at short notice of the cancellation of the previous protest, but we urge all our members and the wider labour movement to support the protest on Thursday 6th September at 5:00 pm at Societe Generale London office in Tower Hill.

Friday, 31 August 2012

Emergency at London Met - please sign the petition

You might have heard press reports about London Metropolitan University, whose Highly Trusted Status for sponsoring international students has been revoked by the UK Border Agency, which means that they are no longer allowed to authorise visas for international students from outside the EU. Worse still, around 2,700 international students are at risk of deportation, despite the fact that they came to the UK to study on visas which they believed to be completely in order.

Sign the petition here for an amnesty for London Metropolitan international students so that they may stay in the UK and complete their studies. Please circulate this as much as possible - it is appalllingly unfair that students who came to the UK in good faith should be penalised for the failure of London Met's management to ensure that the correct immigration procedures were being followed.

You can read more about the failure of London Met's management to deal with this crisis on the London Met Unison branch's website. (Senate House Unison members may remember that London Met Unison's chair Max Watson came to speak to the branch about the pay dispute last month.) Andrew McGettigan goes into more detail on his blog, discussing the way that this will affect the privatisation agenda being pushed by London Met's VC Malcolm Gillies.

Unison have also issued a press release criticising London Met's management for their over-reliance on privatised and outsouced services:
UNISON blamed the problem on London Met’s over-reliance on creating partnerships with private providers – some of which broke the rules regarding overseas students. The union is warning that this is the shape of things to come, as increasing numbers of private companies get involved in the higher education sector. 
The TUC Touchstone blog discusses the wider implications for HE in the UK, where overseas students who pay higher fees than UK or EU students are incresingly important for our sector:
...the students totally complied with the law and were hard working committed students... faced with such information would you be less likely to opt for a UK University? Or do you go to a university in another English speaking country or indeed to one of many European universities increasingly offering degrees via the English language?
Senate House Unison branch sends its solidarity to London Met branch, who in addition to this latest crisis are fighting one of the most aggressive attempts to privatise university services anywhere in the UK.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Higher Education Dispute Latest

I've just sent round a UNISON update regarding this (see below), but I just wanted to quickly sum up where we are now having met with other Bloomsbury UNISON reps yesterday.

  • All unions rejected 1%
  • All unions will be ballotting for strike action
  • UNISON ballot to run from 12 September to 3 October
  • Assuming a yes vote, strike can take place from 10 October onwards
  • UNISON's position is to go for a 2 day strike 18/ 19 October- but will need to agree with other unions
  • If necessary follow-up in November to coincide with student action.
It's great news that all the unions will be working together, and the idea of a two-day strike is to show the employers that we are SERIOUS, which is much more likely to bring them to the negotiating table.

Look out for your ballot papers in September, and for announcements of local meetings about the dispute (12 September and 19 September).

Any questions ask me in the first instance - / 020 7862 8812.


UNISON, the other trade unions, and the higher education employers this week met for final pay talks at ACAS. The talks failed to produce an improved pay offer from the employers, and as a result UNISON will be balloting for strike action among members in those Higher Education Institutions that are part of the national pay talks.

Members had previously rejected the employers’ pay offer of 1%, and no guarantee of a Living Wage for all HE staff. The Higher Education Service Group Executive (HESGE) then decided that, unless an improved offer could be obtained, we should ballot members on whether they are prepared to take strike action on HE pay. The HESGE is recommending that members vote YES to strike action.

The unions’ claim had been for a pay increase of 7%, comprising an element to match inflation, and an element to provide ‘catch-up’ following several years of sub-inflation pay increases – in other words, real terms pay cuts.

Employers will be sent dispute notices over the next few days, and members will receive ballot papers. The industrial action ballot will run from 12 September until 2 October.

Over the next two weeks, branches will be sent a range of information and materials, including ‘vote yes’ leaflets, ‘vote yes’ posters, frequently asked questions, key facts and arguments to help when speaking to members, and a Powerpoint presentation for use in members’ meetings.

We will also be launching an ‘E-mail your Vice-Chancellor’ campaign tool, enabling members to e-mail their Vice-Chancellor or Principal about the pay situation with just a couple of clicks.

It is vital that we get a strong turnout in the ballot, and a decisive vote in favour of strike action. To do this, branches will need to organise meetings, and maximise contact with members, to discuss the importance of the campaign and make it clear that the negotiations have gone as far as they can, without producing an acceptable pay offer.

And we must of course recruit and organise around this campaign, to build the union as we show that we are campaigning hard on behalf of support staff in higher education.

We will keep you updated with information and campaign materials, but branches, reps and members are also encouraged to visit for the latest news.

Best wishes

Mike Short
Senior National Officer
Education and Children's Services
Join us and march for a future that works. 20 October 2012, London.

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