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Updates: University of Birmingham’s New Core system shamed in the trade magazine ERP Today | Strikes

As previously detailed – members meetings will take place tomorrow as follows:
  • 08:30 – Learning Centre UG07
  • 12:30 – Old Gym LG12
We will be providing an update and a motion in the meeting itself rather than in advance to ensure it reflects the latest developments in negotiations – please do come to the meeting so we can get a good idea of what people think!
New Core and Payroll
Following our update last week and the really useful feedback you’ve given us in meetings and by filling out our survey, we sent the attached letter to the Directors of Finance and Human Resources as a summary of the huge variety of issues with the system and to spell out clearly what needs to happen to give staff back confidence that they will be paid right and on time.
The New Core project also receives detailed attention in the attached article from tech magazine ERP today* (full article is available below). The article asks why big University IT projects fail so frequently, and skewers the problems involved in the New Core project specifically.
One telling quote reads that “The reason UoB has been singled out by many as such a bungled effort is that it could and should have been the poster-child for university transformation in the UK, and sadly it isn’t” and the article also states that the “raw materials” (meaning the software) aren’t to blame when “the university leadership doesn’t have the vision, skill and experience to deliver the desired outcome.
UNISON aren’t fans of the New Core system itself but we do agree that there are clear questions to answer in the selection and development of this project. We genuinely want to understand the reasons for this crisis so we can be sure it doesn’t happen again – no member of staff should be worried about being paid at the end of the month. If we don’t get the answers we need we have a clear plan of how to take the campaign further.
In the meantime, if you’ve been underpaid and you are still owed money as of today then make sure you do the following:
Clearly put in writing the amount you are owed and when you expect it to be paid by (speak to us if you want us to do this on your behalf)
– Contact us to ensure we have the full details of your claim. We are consulting UNISON to find out if we can get legal advice and support for all affected staff as a collective group. 
Recruitment drop-ins
Regional officers from the Strategic Organising Unit will be on campus holding drop-ins for new staff and other non-members about union membership.
They will be in:
Nuffield G20 on Tuesday the 12th November, 9-2pm
Watson 310 on Wednesday the 13th November, 9-2pm
Please print the attached poster out and display it in any staff areas you can in your office and encourage anyone you know who is new or not a member to drop by to find out what we’re up to and how being a member can help you and help make the University a better place to work for everyone.
Another University becomes a Living Wage Accredited Employer!
Newcastle University confirmed yesterday that they have been formally accredited as a real living wage employer – their press release can be found here https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/latest/2019/11/livingwageaccreditation/ . As we’ve said before, why can’t the University accredit when so many of its peers are able to?
The living wage foundation also announced a rise in the real living wage yesterday – outside of London the amount the foundation states that responsible employers should meet to give their staff enough to live on is £9.30.
Benchmarking and pay spine talks
At our negotiating meeting in October we held an initial discussion regarding the employers that should be used as a basis for comparison with the University’s own pay structure. The University has suggested a mixture of other Universities and prominent local employers, but it has included some who are known for less than stellar employment practices such as G4S and Asda (the latter having recently imposed a contract on staff). We already have some ideas on the local employers the University should be using as a model (such as Cadburys and National Express) but if you know of any excellent local employers we could present to the University as models then please let us know!
New core – update following recent meeting
Following our submission of the letter detailed in our last email (and attached again to this one) UNISON and UCU representatives attended a meeting with the HR and Finance Directors to discuss the ongoing issues with the payroll system and the need for urgent remedial action.
We are expecting a written response from the University but in the meantime the University responded to the following points in the meeting:
  • There will be another all-staff communication soon with a bit more information regarding the faults with the system. They don’t feel an apology from the Vice-chancellor is necessary yet
  • That at least 418 staff and casual workers were affected by the issues with the October payroll. This is in addition to the cases raised previously and referred to in the University’s communications regarding previous pay days
  • They are open in principle to hard copies of payslips being provided, at least for November’s pay day. They are also working on improving the format of the payslips
  • We are now out of “hypercare” (the period when the supplier is responsible for working with the University to fix faults) but they didn’t confirm how much they have or continue to pay external consultants on the functioning of the system. They expect the system to work flawlessly from January onwards
  • There was no positive response to our request for a one-off payment/bonus to be made to all staff and workers in compensation for the uncertainty
We await the University’s formal response to our letter (it is now due) but clearly more needs to be done to reassure staff and casual workers that they will be properly paid for the work they do? This is the absolute minimum we’d expect from any employer – we hope that the University’s reply to our letter treats the matter with the urgency it warrants.

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