Thursday, 17 December 2015

CoSector Update

This message is primarily for those in CoSector, but do read on in any case.

We (UCU and Unison) met with Sally Townsend, Chris Cobb, Kim Frost and Matt Thorne recently to discuss the future of CoSector. This is part of our relationship with the University of being recognised unions.

The meeting was good natured and was a significant improvement on the style of previous meetings held under strained circumstances.

Things we learned:

1     - All CoSector staff are meeting with management today to receive the same information as we received yesterday. Of course, you might not have been able to attend.
2     - There is an informal recruitment freeze. This does not mean new staff can’t be appointed, especially if a member of staff chooses to leave, but creating new posts will be considerably harder in the short term and will need a formal business case in order to prevent creating roles which are not needed under the business plan.
3     - The Cosmos project is being shut down. We were told there will be no redundancies.
4     - The business plan is being formulated. The board of trustees will be expecting an update in January 2016 and a full version by March 2016.
5     - Any change of terms and conditions was not proposed by the University at this stage, and we welcomed this. The senior management are on “CoSector Terms and Conditions”. We noted that we had never seen nor been consulted on these terms and conditions. The University has said it may choose to extend these T+Cs to new appointments but not any time soon.

We were given assurance that all staff have and continue to be given the opportunity to feed back into the Business case formulation and on a practical level staff are being encouraged to come up with new areas of business or ways of improving current business.

Please let us know if you have any comments or concerns by writing to

Friday, 9 October 2015

CoSector Update: Anthony Kemp resigns as CEO

The University announced yesterday, Thursday 8 October, that the CEO of CoSector, Anthony Kemp,  had resigned with immediate effect.

UNISON – along with our sister union UCU - has expressed some serious concerns to the University about the establishment of CoSector which would see the establishment of a two-tier workforce within some of our core services.

We don’t believe that the university should set up a company that will move away from national pay bargaining, giving employees different (possibly less) annual leave and denying future employees in these services access to the SAUL and USS pension schemes.

We believe that different terms and conditions are divisive and there must be better ways to deliver improved services in the future.

There is still considerable uncertainty about the direction of travel CoSector will assume. There is still much to discuss. The University knows our views. However, this announcement demonstrates that both Unison and UCU lobbying of University management can influence.

Your union can make positive changes in the workplace. Therefore, please encourage your colleagues to join. The more of us there are, the more we can achieve.

If your colleagues haven’t yet joined UNISON then they can do so here:

In the meantime, please feel free to share your views.

Monday, 3 August 2015

CoSector Update

We write to our members employed in the three shared services, Careers, Housing and the University’s Computer Centre, re their proposed amalgamation into a new company, CoSector.

The two recognised unions (unison and UCU) have been pressing management for more clarity as to the proposed arrangements.

After a meeting with Anthony Kemp on 23 July, we have been promised that, when CoSector is set up:

  • All staff will remain employed by the University, on UoL terms and conditions. There will be no TUPE process. (However, please note what might happen in the longer term; see below) 
  • There will be no change to pensions – you will stay members of USS or SAUL, if you are already members of these schemes.
  • There will be no redundancies – compulsory or otherwise.
  • There will be no downgrading in roles.
  • There will be no changes to existing job descriptions.

In the longer term ….

Anthony Kemp has stated that new terms and conditions are being drawn up (we have not seen them yet) but staff will have a ‘choice’ as to whether to stick to UoL T&Cs or opt for the new CoSector ones. Our concern is that, choice or no choice, this will create a two-tier workforce with two sets of terms of conditions. We have made our opposition to this development very clear.

We asked Anthony Kemp if new starters, or existing staff promoted to new roles, will have a choice of T&Cs offered to them or whether they will be automatically be assigned to CoSector T&Cs. There was no clear answer but he did  agree that until the end of January 2016, all new starters and all promotions will join or stay on UoL T&Cs and won’t be offered a choice of new CoSector T&Cs. This was a concession on his part – we will strive to make sure it is not just a temporary one.

We realise that this is an unsettling time for staff and the lack of timely and clear updates have not helped. There are still many questions unanswered. If you have concerns then please let us know. There will be a further meetings with management to negotiate these issues in greater detail. We will keep you posted with further updates as and when we have them. Union reps will also be walking around the various services over the coming weeks so you will have an opportunity to ask us questions/raise concerns face-to-face. We’ll let you know.

Finally, please encourage your colleagues who are not members of either unison or UCU to join. The stronger we are, the more influence we will all have to shape the future of our workplaces.  Please feel free to pass this news onto any concerned colleagues and look out for further updates.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Cofely Update

UNISON is working with Cofely to arrange free English language courses. If you would like to improve your English then please speak to your supervisor to let them know that you are interested.

Following the success of the UNISON and UCU London weighting campaign last year, UNISON has lodged a London weighting claim for the workers who were TUPE’d from University of London to BBW (now Cofely). Cofely has confirmed that this will be discussed at the meeting in
July 2015.

Following a recent case in the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) there are changes in the ways in which holiday pay should be calculated which should give an increased holiday pay to those working overtime. UNISON has been discussing this with Cofely who are working on a new national policy. Once we have information we will send this out to members.

UNISON is asking both the University of London and Cofely about who will be running the contract from November 2015 when the contract is due for renewal. We haven’t been given an update yet but watch this space.

If you have any questions, would like to get more involved, would like to go on a training course or talk to a union representative please call Dario Lopez on 07904 342453 or email

Friday, 17 July 2015

SAUL Pension Scheme Update

Both UNISON and Unite have consulted members regarding the proposed changes of the SAUL pension scheme. The changes are to bring in a new CARE scheme from April 2016 and a majority of members voted to accept the revised pension scheme. Unite members also voted to accept the pension scheme changes.

The SAUL employers need to undertake a statutory 60 day consultation with regard to any pension scheme changes. It is anticipated that this will start in mid-July and employers will provide more information on the scheme. At this point a pensions calculator as well as FAQs should be available on the SAUL website. If you are in the SAUL scheme your employer should provide you with further information in July or August.

If you would like to speak to anyone at UNISON about the SAUL changes then please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Endorse Your Reps - Vote YES on February 2nd

The University received a request by staff under the Information and Consultation Regulations 2004 to establish Information and Consultation arrangements; you may have signed the petition yourself a few months ago.

UNISON and UCU, want to ensure that staff do feel fully informed and consulted with on a regular basis. Three years ago, the two unions renegotiated our recognition agreement with the University to ensure that we are informed and consulted about matters that affect all staff and can represent staff interests effectively on all matters from small policy changes to large restructures.

We welcome this opportunity to extend our current arrangements and protect what we have already achieved. The unions have agreed that in order to comply with the legislation, the staff side team that will discuss these changes should be nominated from our pool of union reps by the two union committees.  The reps then simply need to be endorsed by all staff at the University through a simple majority vote.

The ballot for endorsing the reps opens on the 2nd February and closes on the 6th. It is vital that members of UNISON and UCU take the time to click ‘Yes’. We want committed and experienced representatives making these decisions that will affect our ability to represent your interests, from simple updates on Programme Beveridge to protecting jobs in restructures.

UNISON  has nominated Sam Ferman, our new steward in Stewart House at HEE and Angela Jelfs, our stalwart treasurer and steward in Student Central. UCU has nominated Jon Bitmead and Angela Ireland, two reps we have worked closely with for many years, both at the JNC (Joint Negotiating Committee between the two unions and the management) as well as during campaigns and consultations.

There will be many opportunities for you to discuss this with both unions over the next few days, look out for details on stalls, drop ins and members meetings. We urge you to talk to your colleagues and encourage them to Vote Yes.

What is Programme Beveridge?

Most University of London employees will be aware of the new project announced by the University, Programme Beveridge. The aims of the project have been stated as:

• Provide an effective workplace for staff
• Enable staff to work in a way that meets their own needs as well as the needs of the organisation
• Encourage staff to work together by breaking down physical barriers
• Increase the amount of space for academic and commercial events
• Provide efficient and effective storage facilities

Each aim is geared towards supporting the University’s overall strategy. But what will this actually mean?

UNISON and UCU reps have been briefed on the project in order to ensure that we can help members should any problems or concerns arise. At this stage, few concrete plans have been put in place although HR have already moved offices to Stewart House. There are many positives that staff can look forward to, such as improved technology and new workspaces. However it is unclear which staff will be affected and which may miss out on this flexible approach to working. UNISON will work to ensure that the approach taken will be fair and consistent for all our members. If you have concerns regarding the programme, don’t hesitate to contact the branch.

Monday, 26 January 2015

London Weighting Freeze Unfrozen

At the University of London, London Weighting had been frozen at £2134 for the past 22 years. With the increasing costs of living and working in London, staff at the University of London have seen housing, transport and other costs rise whilst the allowance that is meant to offset this issue has remained at the same levels as in 1992.

The branch committee and members of the branch, as well as the UCU branch, took the decision to launch a joint-campaign aimed at increasing London Weighting for all staff. The branch held information stalls and produced posters on the increasing costs of livings in London, in 1992 the cost of a weekly 1-6 travel card was £23.70, now it is £57.20. The average house price in London was £70,000, whilst now it is £375,795. The issue was important to staff and was reflected in the level of engagement of members and non-members alike. After the first negotiation meeting with the University, the UNISON and UCU negotiating team produced an online survey where they asked members of staff to tell their stories about how the rising costs of working in London were affecting their lives and standard of living. The response rate was high, a summary of the survey as well as statics and quotes were used in the second round of negotiation meetings to illustrate arguments and the importance of the issue to staff. 

The final offer from the University was to raise London Weighting to £3500 by 2018. This would mean a 64% increase in London Weighting. Although it fell short of the original claim of an uplift to £4000, the branch consulted with members through an e-ballot and 74% of votes were to accept the offer. Without the engagement of members and non-members with the campaign, success would not have been possible and London Weighting would still be frozen.

On hearing the news, one member thanked the branch “Wow,  we have waited a very long time for this, 23 years if I'm correct, as someone who voted to accept the offer, thanks Unison for all your help in securing us a better deal for future years.”

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