UNISON University of Birmingham branch passes motion calling for a national boycott of the University’s wholly-owned subsidiary company, the Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre (EPH) until the University ends outsourcing on campus and brings all Hotel staff back in-house. Members voted unanimously in favour of the motion presented below, committing the branch to a plan of action to end outsourcing on campus – a campaign will be launched soon. We also note that the branch’s dispute demand over living wage accreditation has implications in the fight against outsourcing: were UoB to become accredited, Hotel staff would also have to be paid at least the Living Wage rate, in line with the yearly rate.
Motion to Boycott the Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre (including Lucas House, Garth House, Peter Scott, and Horton Grange)
In July 2018, The University of Birmingham opened The Edgbaston Park Hotel, a subsidiary company owned entirely by the University. The Edgbaston Park Hotel are being inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst when on the one hand, they insist that they are a separate entity from the University, while at the same time they are relying on its services, reputation and image, and most Hotel decisions need to be vetted by University departments. The company’s board includes the University’s Finance Director and the University’s head of Hospitality and Accommodation Services.
This branch notes:
– Edgbaston Park Hotel staff have had a mere pay rise of 1p in 2019, bringing their pay up to £8.21/hour, while staff directly employed by UoB are paid at least £9/hour;
– University of Birmingham staff are given 3 months’ notice if they are made redundant. EPH staff are given 2 weeks’ notice if they are made redundant;
– University of Birmingham staff have union recognition and can collectively bargain for better pay, equality, and improved working conditions. EPH senior management are refusing to recognise unions for new staff. These are union busting tactics which have no place in any workplace;
– UoB staff have 6 months sick pay after 6 months of service. EPH staff have 15 days of sick pay after 3 years of service;
– There is a very high turnover of staff at the Hotel, and the committee are receiving a worrying number of communications from staff there on the appalling way in which they are being treated. A very high proportion of the staff we’ve spoken to have told us that they are looking for jobs elsewhere;
– There is no enhanced rate for overtime or bank holiday working at the Hotel;
– All working hours at the Hotel include bank holidays and weekends. Working hours are not fixed at all either and managers change the number of hours you work at short notice. You need to tell the Hotel if you have another job and they have the right to object to this. The Hotel use fingerprint devices for clocking in and out;
– The terms and conditions for new EPH staff, as well as access to benefits (such as Occupational Health support, parking, the Sports Centre) are substantially worse compared to the conditions of anyone else who is employed directly by the University.
This branch agrees that:
– Everyone working on this campus should be on the same terms and conditions, should have access to the same benefits, and unions should be recognised for all staff.
This branch resolves to:
contact all those who had signed our previous petitions to bring staff in-house, and ask them to support our boycotting campaign until the University of Birmingham accepts to end outsourcing on our campus;
call for a national campaign of boycotting the Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre – create posters, videos, letters, and do anything else necessary to raise awareness of the working conditions at the Hotel;
gather support for the boycott from UCU branches across the country (by sending them a template motion to be passed at members’ meetings), and any other trade unions, groups, and individuals who may wish to use the Hotel’s services;
send a clear message to the University of Birmingham that we will not allow to be divided, and for them to continue to erode our working conditions and pay on campus;
only end the boycotting campaign when all Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre staff become directly employed by the University of Birmingham.