Monday, 14 April 2014

Senate House Branch: Our Reaction to the Closure of the Garden Halls

On 11th April the Cofely managers announced the closure of the garden halls as 30th June 2014 to staff affected. Both Senate House UNISON branch members and Cofely managers have expected this announcement since Summer 2013 and it has been a topic of discussion at both JNC meetings between UNISON and the University of London and at the monthly UNISON and Cofely forums. Despite the University dragging its heels, UNISON has been proactive in the run up to the announcement. Already UNISON has been discussing with Cofely how to mitigate the negative consequences for staff that the hall closures will cause. UNISON and Cofely have begun to engage in a series of meetings in addition to the monthly forum to discuss a fair redundancy procedure that will include offering voluntary redundancy packages to other Cofely employees with a view to hopefully open up other spaces in the University of London contract for garden halls staff who don’t wish to take redundancy. Meanwhile, Cofely managers are ensuring that jobs opening up in other halls are being offered first to current Cofely staff and that vacancies in other Cofely contracts are being advertised. Please speak to your supervisor or your union rep for more information.

In light of the fact that there still may be staff facing redundancies, although this will hopefully be a reduced number, Cofely and UNISON will be holding meetings to explain the law on redundancy and the redundancy policy that Cofely and UNISON negotiate. UNISON branch representatives have attended a recent training course on redundancies and will be fully involved in the procedure. UNISON regional officials have been advising the branch and Cofely, using their experience handling other redundancy situations in universities, to ensure that not only does the Cofely policy follow the law but that it is also as fair as possible and all Cofely staff receive equal treatment. Jill Coldrick-Chappell a security guard at Canterbury Hall and a UNISON steward stated that “I have already met with UNISON regional officials and other security guards in the garden halls to talk about what redundancy might mean for us and what our options may be. Although this is an uncertain time for Cofely staff at the garden halls, UNISON has been so supportive this far and I know that they will make sure my voice is heard and those of the staff I represent as a steward.”

UNISON members should contact Jill Coldrick-Chappell (, Sharon Bracey (, Marta Gryc ( or Jo Galloway ( if they have any concerns or questions. UNISON will be holding a meeting at the Garden Halls shortly.

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