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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