At a well attended virtual branch meeting last week, members from Birmingham University UNISON passed a motion (reproduced in full below) to express their deep concern about plans to make up to 19 staff redundant at the University-owned Edgbaston Park Hotel.
While all hospitality businesses are facing difficult times, the Hotel is owned by a very wealthy institution and members feel the University could do more to save jobs at the subsidiary company. The hotel will undoubtedly form a big part of the University’s contribution to the 2022 Commonwealth games, so retaining an experienced and dedicated workforce there must be a priority for the institution over and above short-term cost cutting.
Representatives are currently engaged in negotiations around the plans and are looking to engage pragmatically about all the possible solutions to save jobs. One clear option is the use of the recently announced Jobs Support Scheme, which would involve government support for the wages of any staff put on reduced hours working.
In addition, members have given their clear backing for rapid talks on the strongest possible redundancy avoidance agreement with the University, with a commitment to consider further action if this doesn’t prove possible.
Motion – Job security at the University and the Edgbaston Park Hotel
Birmingham University UNISON is appalled to hear of the redundancy consultation recently launched at the University’s wholly owned subsidiary company, the Edgbaston Park Hotel. The moves to make up to 19 staff redundant out of a workforce of roughly 100 staff working at the Hotel seem completely unjust when the ultimate owner of the business, the University, has such healthy financial resources.
This branch believes the University has a moral responsibility for the financial position of the Hotel and the corresponding job security of its workers. The branch also expresses its deep concern about message this restructure sends about the University’s commitment to job security in respect of both directly employed staff and those employed via a subsidiary.
The fact that the restructure is being conducted on statutory terms for some employees means that the time to challenge this is very short. This may necessitate drastic and rapid action to save jobs.
This branch calls on University management to work with UNISON to avoid redundancies amongst all branch members by:
- Providing financial and other support to the Hotel and any other area of the University where Covid-19 restrictions have resulted in a temporary cessation or reduction in work
- Committing to a redundancy avoidance strategy, negotiated with UNISON and the other relevant unions, that would aim for no compulsory redundancies linked to the current exceptional circumstances
- Using its influence over subsidiary employers to stop redundancies and to ensure all those working at the University’s premises have security in these exceedingly difficult and uncertain times
This branch instructs the committee to:
- Seek public and political support for a campaign against redundancies at the Edgbaston Park Hotel via all of the usual social media channels
- Seek to establish as a matter of urgency whether the University is willing and able to make a commitment to the redundancy avoidance strategy described above, and to declare a formal dispute if this is not forthcoming
- If the University is unwilling to commit to a redundancy avoidance strategy along the above lines, to examine options for a broader University-wide campaign including consulting members on industrial action (if possible under the law and UNISON rules)