Recognition and Procedure Agreement between the University of London (“the central University”), Unison and the University and College Union (UCU)


Applicable to employees of the Central Academic Bodies and central activities of the University of London (the "central University").

1 Introduction   
2 General Principles
3 The Scope of the Agreement   
4 Terms of reference and membership of the central University Joint Negotiating and Consultation Committee (JNCC) 
5 Trade Union Representatives 
6 Time Off and Facilities for Trade Union Duties and Activities 
7 Disputes resolution
8 Variation, Duration and Termination of this Agreement 
9 Appendix 1

The original document, signed by the Associate Director of HR and Employee Representatives  [PDF, 8 pgs, 192KB]

1 Introduction

The central University recognises voluntarily for purposes of collective bargaining the following Trade Unions as having bargaining rights in respect of all employees of the central University in roles graded at Level 1 to 9 inclusive: Unison (Levels 1 to 6) and UCU (Level 7 to 9). Formal agreements reached between the central University, Unison and UCU apply to employees in the relevant group of employees whether such employees are a member of Unison and UCU or not.

The central University and Trade Unions accept that there are overlapping spheres of influence in recognition and that to avoid conflict, and ensure effective collective bargaining future consultation and negotiation will be undertaken collectively with Unison and UCU (see JNCC section 4).

All parties have a shared commitment to the sustainability and success of the central University.  The central University, Unison and UCU recognise and respect the fact that they have distinct and legitimate roles.

The purpose of this Agreement is to promote effective joint working between the central University, Unison and UCU. The Agreement sets out Trade Union recognition and representation within the central University and clear procedural arrangements for information sharing, consultation and negotiating as appropriate over changes to terms and conditions.

As part of this Agreement all parties commit to working together in accordance with the central University’s values of dignity, courtesy and respect and confirm their mutual respect and recognise that different viewpoints can exist and be valid. The overall aim for all is achieving an outcome which benefits the central University and its employees.

The central University, Unison and UCU colleagues are committed to co-operation and to preventing the unnecessary escalation of issues where ever possible. As part of this commitment, all involved in such discussions have a responsibility to build positive relations which prevent and, where necessary, resolve by agreement problems which arise. Wherever possible issues will be addressed and resolved by early and informal discussion.

All parties recognise the right of individual employees to join or not join a Trade Union of their choice.  The central University recognises the right of Unison and UCU to elect a number of local representatives to act on its behalf. The central University also acknowledges the involvement of full time officers to support local representatives in their duties.

This agreement supersedes any and all other agreements.

2 General Principles

Unison and UCU recognise the central University’s role is to plan, organise and manage the work of the central University in order to achieve a sustainable organisation delivering the best possible results in pursuing the aims and objectives set by the central University’s Board of Trustees.

The central University recognises Unison and UCU’s roles areto represent the interests of their members.

All parties recognise their common interest and joint purpose in furthering the aims and objectives of the central University and in achieving responsible and sustainable solutions in all matters of concern to them.

In order to deliver the central University’s objectives, whilst also recognising the individual and collective interests of employees, all parties are agreed on the following common aims:

  • To build a world-class University, that can operate successfully in the local regional, national and global contexts;
  • To develop and promote a shared understanding of the challenges faced by the central University and ensure it is in the strongest position;
  • To ensure that employment practices in the central University are conducted in line with current employment law and, wherever possible, best practice;
  • To ensure all employees have the opportunity to contribute to the central University’s success whilst enjoying good careers;
  • To encourage communication within the central University, and understanding of the central University’s  vision as well as the barriers and challenges to its aspirations;
  • To ensure greater transparency and participation as part of a collaborative approach to problem-solving;
  • To make changes to policies, procedures and practices as necessary that maintain quality levels, efficiency and effectiveness;
  • To promote an inclusive culture in which all relations between members of the central University community are based on the values of dignity, courtesy and respect;
  • To promote equality, and eliminate harassment and unlawful discrimination, among people of all ages, ethnicities, disabilities, family structures, genders, nationalities, sexual orientations, religious or other beliefs, and socio-economic backgrounds;
  • To ensure fair and equitable treatment of all employees including in matters of dispute;
  • To build a relationship of trust between the central University, its employees and Unison / UCU Trade Union Representatives.

Nothing in this Agreement shall preclude the rights of the central University and its Managers to communicate with its employees either individually or collectively.

3 The Scope of the Agreement

The central University commits to undertake the following jointly with Unison and UCU:

Information – The central University will fulfil its obligations under current employment legislation relating to the disclosure of information. The central University undertakes to supply Unison and UCU with the appropriate information to enable them to carry out meaningful and effective consultation and negotiation. All parties must keep each other informed of all relevant matters. Relevant Information will be provided in good faith and in a timely manner.

Consultation – The central University is committed to complying with its statutory requirements and will consult on aspects of organisational change, changes to policy and procedure, prospective redundancies, TUPE transfers and matters of Health and Safety. The central University will also consult as necessary regarding occupational pension schemes.  

Negotiation – The central University will negotiate with a view to reaching agreement with Unison and UCU on changes to terms and conditions of employment and on changes to associated policy and procedure that directly affect staff. Matters negotiated nationally will not be the subject of local discussion except in reference to questions of local interpretation over which the central University has discretion.

The central University recognises the rights of Unison and UCU to represent the interests of its members on individual matters.

This Agreement does not impact on the national recognition rights of Unison and UCU.

4 Terms of reference and membership of the central UniversityJoint Negotiating and Consultation Committee (JNCC)

The Terms of Reference for the JNCC are attached as Appendix One. Nothing in this agreement precludes the central University, Unison and UCU from holding bi-lateral meetings as required.

5 Trade Union Representatives

Unison and UCU will inform the HR Director in writing of the names of all elected representatives normally within 14 days of their election or of any subsequent change. Unison and UCU will confirm the name, position held, date of appointment and duration.

To ensure full representation, consultation and communication of the views of union members, each union has its own structure of representatives. The central University will be notified of the names of representatives as soon as they are known and the unions will inform the central University of the names of any representatives replaced. Such notifications will be sent to the HR Director copy to the HR Manager.

The central University recognises that Unison and UCU Trade Union representatives fulfil an important role and that the discharge of their duties as Trade Union representatives will not prejudice their employment with the central University.

If a Unison or UCU Trade Union representative is subject of an allegation, the central University will inform the relevant Trade Union Regional Officer. Please note complaints from union members regarding the conduct of a Trade Union Representative should normally be raised with the relevant Trade Union Regional Officer.

The central University will inform new employees of the opportunity to join Unison and UCU and invite them to participate in induction events in orderto raise awareness of the benefits of Trade Union representation.

The central University will also provide the Branch Secretaries of the recognised unions with a list of central University staff and will thereafter ensure that the recognised unions are updated with a monthly list of relevant new employees and leavers. For the purposes of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, the central University will provide the recognised unions with a list of names and departments of all hourly paid lecturers and relevant fixed-term employees whose contracts of employment will expire, at the beginning of each term or the start of the academic year as appropriate.

6 Time Off and Facilities for Trade Union Duties and Activities

Details of the current arrangement for time off and facilities for trade union duties and activities can be found on the University of London website.

7 Disputes resolution

In the event that the JNCC records a failure to reach an agreement on terms and condition changes acceptable to any/all Union, UCU and the central University then the disputes resolution procedure may be invoked by writing to the Chief Operating Officer setting out the matter in dispute and the date of the JNCC in which the failure to agree arose. The letter must be signed by the relevant union Branch Officers and Regional Officials.

In normal circumstances an extraordinary JNCC (EXJNCC) will normally be held within 14 days the purpose of which will be to reach agreement and resolve the dispute.

The EXJNCC will need to be quorate in order to meet.

In the event of failure to reach agreement at the EXJNCC, the matter may be referred to ACAS for conciliation and/or arbitration with the agreement of both/all parties.

8 Variation, Duration and Termination of this Agreement

Variations or changes to this Agreement can only be made by mutual agreement.

This Agreement will operate from the date of all parties signing Section 11 of this Agreement.

The operation of this Agreement will be reviewed after twelve months from the date of operation.

This Agreement can be terminated by either the central University or both Unison and UCU giving one months’ notice in writing. The notice period will be subject to review after 12 months of the policy being in operation. Consideration will be given at that time to increase the notice period to three months.

9 Appendix 1 - Joint Negotiation and Consultation Committee (JNCC)

Terms of Reference

1.0    Purpose

The JNCC acts as the formal body through which the management of the central University meets with the two recognised Trade Unions: UCU and UNISON for communication and consultation and negotiation.

Communication is concerned with the interchange of information for example, for illustrative purposes: briefing on strategic planning matters such as the central University’s Strategic Plan and major development projects or plans.

Consultation is the process by which the central University and Unison / UCU representatives jointly examine and discuss issues of mutual concern for example, for illustrative purposes:  submitting lists of employees nearing the end dates of their fixed-term contracts and carrying out statutory consultation such as discussing the steps taken to avoid redundancies.

Negotiation is the process by which the central University,Unison and UCU representatives engage in a dialogue on collective workplace issues relating to terms and conditions of employment with the aim of reaching an agreement for example, for illustrative purposes:  contractual changes to holiday and overtime payments.

The JNCC shall be a standalone committee of the central University. However, the central University will provide summary reports of substantive matters considered at the JNCC to the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group, the Board of Trustees and to other relevant committees of the central University as appropriate (to include Health & Safety).

1.1    Scope
The JNCC will provide the mechanism by which issues relating to collective bargaining, terms and conditions of employment, policies and procedures for all employees are considered. This of course would include formal statutory consultation.

The scope of the JNCC is not to consider individual cases or local matters, such issues shall be discussed outside the meetings unless on an exceptional basis to resolve matters that otherwise would lead to the Dispute Resolution procedure being invoked.

The JNCC will receive reports from other central University bodies; on such matters as health & safety. The Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group will receive the minutes of the JNCC.

The JNCC can establish time limited ‘sub groups’ with agreed Terms of Reference to consider specific issues.  Sub groups will report to the JNCC along with any recommendations for formal ratification.

2.0    Membership structure

2.1    central University Side
central University members will be made up of the following eight members plus the Secretary to the JNCC:

  • Deputy University Secretary;
  • Director of Finance;
  • Director of HR;
  • Up to three Heads of Department/Section Directors;
  • Up to two senior members of staff from HR Department.

The central University will be responsible for appointing a Secretary. The Secretary will be responsible for arranging meetings, the timely production and circulation of agenda, papers and minutes.

2.2    Union Side
Unison and UCU to annually elect a Chair (drawn from its members).Trade Union members nominated and appointed by the recognised local Trade Unions as follows:

  • Minimum of two and maximum of four representatives from both Unison and UCU;
  • One regional full time official from each union will also be able to attend any meeting of the JNCC at either sides request.

Four representatives from each side shall be a quorum for a meeting. If the meeting is not quorate it can still proceed and the Chair will ensure that the minutes reflect this fact and ensure that an alternative means is used to consider items of business that require reaching an agreement.

Either side shall be able to invite other colleagues to attend the JNCC with the agreement of the Chairs on a particular specialist subject matter.

3.0    Meeting Procedure

The Committee shall aim to reach agreement by consensus on the issues raised.  Any agreement reached by the Committee shall be noted in the minutes. Where any significant differences remain and agreement cannot be reached, the fact that agreement is not reached will be noted in the minutes or resolution sought outside the meeting for example, consideration of terms and conditions issues through the formal Disputes Resolution procedure. Normally Chairs on the central University management and Unison / UCU side will provide clear agenda items – issuing briefing notes as appropriate.

3.1    Frequency of meetings
Three times a year on set days publicised at the beginning of each academic year.

The meetings shall convene subject to the proposal of agenda items by either party normally working days before a meeting, and the distribution of the agenda and supporting papers normally 5 working days beforehand. Minutes of the meeting will be distributed, following agreement with the Chairs, normally within 15 working days of the meeting. It is recognised that there may be circumstances where the timescales above are not able to be followed. However such circumstances will be kept to a minimum. Agenda items should be clear and wherever possible a short explanatory note for each item shall accompany the agenda.

Wherever possible a representative from HR and the Chair from the Trade Union side shall hold a pre-meeting to agree minutes and discuss matters to be covered at the next meeting of the JNCC.

Where matters of strategic importance or of an urgent matter (such as a dispute) are to be considered an Emergency Joint Negotiation, Information Consultation Committee (EMJNCC) can be called by either party. The arrangements of which will be agreed between the Chair of the central University and the Union sides.

The Terms of Reference contained here neither stop the central University management representatives nor the Trade Unions representatives from Unison or UCU to hold bi-lateral meetings in order to discuss issues that concern one particular group of employees. However, it is envisaged that most employee or employee group specific matters can be considered within the scope of the JNCC.

3.2    Charing of JNCC meetings
The Chair of the central University side and UCU / Unison side shall alternate the chairing of each meeting of the JNCC.

3.3    Facility time
The right for reasonable time off to attend the Committee and other associated meetings is acknowledged by the central University in line with employment legislation (Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 (TULR(C)A 92).

3.4    Failure to Agree
In the rare situation that an agreement cannot be reached over term and conditions changes at the JNCC the minutes shall record that there has been a ‘failure to agree’ and that the Dispute Resolution Procedure is to be used. See Dispute Resolution Procedure (Section 9 of Recognition and Procedure Agreement between the central University, UNISON and the University and College Union).

August 2013
Version 4