Friday, 6 June 2014

Garden Halls and Cofely Update

At the request of neighbouring UNISON branches and Senate House branch members we are writing to you with a brief update on the situation at the garden halls. UNISON accredited Cofely Reps with the support of regional staff have been meeting regularly with Cofely throughout the consultation period and had begun discussing arrangements for the possible redundancies throughout the last year at our monthly partnership forum.

After carefully evaluating the closure situation, UNISON has concluded not to pursue a ‘no redundancy’ demand from Cofely as this would be unachievable and could unfairly raise members hopes. The Garden Halls are closing because the present ones have come to the end of their usable life and will be replaced by buildings for the future students that are modern and functional, therefore Cofely are losing a number of work sites. As a result 80 jobs no longer exist. Redundancy is a type of dismissal, however it is governed by laws that Cofely must follow. Redundancy pay is a further recognition that the dismissal is not the fault of the employee but a result of the job no longer existing. The legal reasonfor these redundancies was the staff that worked at the halls that were being demolished, This criteria is enough for the redundancy process to begin but redeployment is always looked for and leaving the company is the last resort if no other jobs are found.For the past year Cofely and the UNISON branch have been discussing the need to mitigate redundancies as fully as possible and UNISON has negotiated a vacancy management programme. As a result, approx. 15 fixed term contracts were issued that are due to expire at the same time as the closure of the halls in order to create vacancies to be filled by the Garden Halls permanent staff. Furthermore, Cofely are advertising vacancies across the company in order to maximise opportunities for staff to find a new position which has allowed staff to consider jobs across London and the UK. They are also offering reasonable retraining if needed to apply for these positions, which several garden halls staff have already requested. UNISON has ensured that if successful, Garden Halls staff who are transfering to other roles at UOL will keep their new Cofely terms and conditions including Holiday, sick pay and pension entitlements. Garden halls staff that remain at Cofely will NOT lose these. Furthermore, your length of service will continue uninterrupted.

If garden halls staff apply for these positions then Cofely has assured us that they will be prioritised ahead of other applicants for interviews.As with any position for which there are multiple applicants there will be a process to choose people to fill the vacancies. UNISON has worked with Cofely to ensure that this process is as fair as possible and the interview is one part of the selection process. UNISON discussed with Cofely the need for only evidence based criteria to be used in the selection matrix. The criteria of “drive” and “daring” etc based on Cofely’s Company values, is used in all Cofely job selections from the management to the operational staff, the Garden Halls staff will be treated as equally as other Cofely employees. Length of service is not taken into consideration and could not due to equality legislation. The job interviews will be conducted the same way other job interviews are and will form one part of the final selection.

The one to one meetings were NOT job interviews, and UNISON ensured that our members at the garden halls were fully informed as to the purpose of the one to ones through a member’s meeting at the garden halls. UNISON continually pressed Cofely to ensure that the One to One process was fair and understood, ensuring that the majority of staff had the chance for individual consultation. UNISON represented our members during these consultations, supporting them in asking questions and discussing individual circumstances.

The consultation period will end on the 13th June and all garden halls members of staff who have not found new jobs within the Cofely contract will be served their notice. Individual notice periods can be found in each employee’s contract. If your notice period is four weeks then you will continue to work the first two weeks until the 30th June and then finish work and be paid for the second two weeks of your notice period, some people may have notice periods that are longer or shorter than this. During your notice period you can take annual leave, any leave not taken will be pro rata’d to reflect the fact you have only worked for six months of the year and then any that remains will be given to you as holiday pay. You will also receive redundancy payment which is based on your years of service and age. If you think that your redundancy payment has been miscalculated please contact your reps.

Should garden halls staff have any questions then they can contact the staff reps (which includes two UNISON members) or your fully trained and accredited UNISON reps. Jill Coldrick-Chappell is a security officer based at Canterbury hall and has been gathering questions from staff and helping support members. Give her a call on 07900598817 or pop by for a chat. Our cleaning rep Marta Gryc is also available to talk and has completed specific redundancy training, she is based at the Paddington halls and can be reached on 07824476742.

UNISON has also been working for the benefit of our members across the University of London contract. Don’t worry, you haven’t been forgotten! Recently our Security Rep has carried out an anonymous survey of operational issues that specifically affected security guards culminating in a special meeting with Cofely management to discuss possible solutions. If you would like to take part in this survey please contact Jill Coldrick- Chappell (number above). Furthermore, we continue to have monthly partnership forum meetings with Cofely where we raise individual concerns and collective issues and work with Cofely to find solutions.

If you have an issue you would like to discuss please contact one of our Cofely reps. Not sure who they are? Contact Jo Galloway (07961 044 951) or Dario Lopez (07904342453) who can point you in the right direction.

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