8.6.1 General Principles
The aim of this agreement is to foster a positive and constructive relationship between the University and its recognised trade unions, and to provide a mutually understood method of discussion with a view to reaching agreement about issues affecting those staff who fall within the purview of this agreement.
Until the procedure provided for in this agreement has been exhausted, neither party shall be free to take any other action and the status quo will be maintained. The parties further agree that inter-union disputes, should they arise, shall be an appropriate subject for this procedure, but will not be the subject of industrial action, and every effort will be made to settle them in accordance with TUC procedures.
The parties to this agreement accept the obligation to arrange discussions under the machinery provided as quickly as practicable, with the aim of settling issues as near as possible to the point of origin. The necessary facilities to enable officers of the recognised trade unions and other staff representatives to carry out their responsibilities are described in Appendix A.
The University recognises the Joint Committee for University Support Staff (the JCUSS) as the appropriate and sole bargaining agent in respect of all employees other than those employed in the University's academic and academic-related grades. (Support staff who were assimilated onto the new University grades 6 and 7 will be covered by this recognition agreement.)
The University further recognises Unite and Unison as the only trade unions entitled to engage in collective bargaining on behalf of these staff. The recognised trade unions shall, in addition to the normal facilities for representation of individual members, be accorded such other facilities as are defined in this agreement and as may be agreed in the future.
All local conditions of employment shall be covered by this machinery. Matters negotiated nationally between the Universities' and Colleges' Employers Association (UCEA) and the recognised trade unions will not, however, be a matter for local determination except so far as questions of local application and interpretation may arise.
8.6.3 The Joint Committee for University Support Staff
The JCUSS will consist of (i) seven persons appointed by the University, including two members of the Personnel Committee, one of whom will be the Vice-Chair (Employee Relations) of the Personnel Committee and will act as chair of the JCUSS; (ii) six representatives of the support staff of whom three are to be nominated by Unite and three are to be nominated by Unison; normally, one of these six is to be nominated from among support staff employed in clinical departments.
The employee representatives will appoint a joint secretary from amongst their number, for a term of two years rotating between Unison and Unite, and the University will appoint a joint secretary and a senior lead officer from amongst the officers of University HR. The Joint Secretaries will prepare and distribute the agenda and related documents at least one week before each meeting and will prepare the minutes, including a record of agreed action points, normally within three weeks after each meeting.
The Joint Secretaries will discuss more general matters (including those related to conditions of service) as directed by the joint committee or by their respective officers. They will attempt to clarify the aspirations of those whom they represent and, where possible, to recommend outline agreements. However, the Joint Secretaries are not empowered to reach binding agreements. If they fail to agree a recommendation, issues will be referred to the Joint Committee, which may consider whether the appointment of a small working group might be appropriate.
The JCUSS will meet once each term, normally on the Tuesday morning of week four. A scheduled meeting may be cancelled by agreement of the joint secretaries if there is insufficient business to merit a meeting, or where, in the opinion of the chair, matters raised for discussion could more effectively be dealt with in the first instance by the joint secretaries. Where a matter arises that is so urgent that it cannot await discussion at a scheduled meeting either of the joint secretaries may request of the chair that a special meeting be arranged; a special meeting will normally be held within 10 working days of such a request.
It will be the duty of the JCUSS (i) to consider and discuss with a view to reaching agreement matters referred to it by the parties to this agreement and (ii) subject to the approval of the Personnel Committee and together with other recognised joint committees, to make arrangements for employees generally to be informed and consulted about the University's personnel policies and practices as envisaged in the Agreement on Consulting and Informing Employees.
8.6.4 Facilities for Officers and Representatives of the JCUSS and of Unison and Unite
The University recognises the contribution made by the officers and representatives of Unite and Unison to its employment relations generally and specifically to the effective operation of its HR policies and practices, including those covering employee information and consultation and those which, like the grievance and disciplinary procedures, can from time to time require that individuals be given the right to representation. The University takes the view that those who carry out such roles are serving its wider interests, and values such effort.
The facilities described below are, therefore, provided by the University to officers of JCUSS and representatives of Unite and Unison to enable them to fulfil this role and to deal generally with matters relevant to the conduct of employment relations between the recognised trade unions and the University. Any queries or concerns in respect of these arrangements may be addressed to the officers of University HR, who can also provide further advice and guidance on request.
In the interests of promoting an effective and constructive relationship between the parties to this agreement, employing departments are asked to make operational arrangements for release from work for representatives and officers to carry out their roles in accordance with the framework set out below. Those responsible in departments for making such arrangements are also asked to foster an understanding within the department of the important role that an officer or representative is undertaking when they are so engaged.
It will be equally important that representatives and officers afforded these facilities recognise the additional operational burden that their involvement can place on their department and that every effort is, therefore, made to minimise the impact of these arrangements on departments. The arrangements for release from work set out below are subject to the agreement at the time of release of the employee’s head of department. It is understood that agreement may from time to time have to be withheld for operational reasons. However, such agreement will not unreasonably be withheld.
The recognised trade unions will also ensure that no one individual will spend more than 20% of their working hours (averaged over the year) on union business, in order to ensure an undue burden does not fall on any one department and so as not to unduly disrupt the work of individual university departments. In exceptional circumstances, with the agreement of the relevant Branch Chair and the HR Director, it may be possible to increase the amount of time spent on union business by an individual for a defined period of time.
On appointment, each officer or representative covered by this agreement will receive credentials signed by the University’s joint secretary and the appropriate trade union secretary, together with a copy of this and other relevant agreements. A copy of each officer or representative’s credentials, which will include an explanation of his or her specific role and, broadly, of the facilities required, will be supplied to his or her department. A list of the officers and representatives covered by this agreement is in Appendix B.
Facilities for the employees’ representatives on JCUSS
It will be the individual responsibility of the member of the JCUSS to seek the agreement of the head of department in advance of requiring facilities to carry out their role or specific periods of release.
The JCUSS Employees’ Joint Secretary
The JCUSS Employees’ Joint Secretary holds a particularly important role as they are required to work with officers of the University outside their department to ensure the smooth operation of all aspects of the University’s employment relations with its support staff. The Employees’ Joint Secretary’s role includes (but is not limited to): liaising with the University’s Joint Secretary and other officers, for example where consultative meetings are arranged with the University’s senior lead officer in pursuance of the University’s objectives; preparing agendas, papers and minutes for meetings of the JCUSS; dealing with formal correspondence, and with both formal and informal consultation between the University and the employee representatives; and acting as the main contact point for the JCUSS employee representatives.
The Employees’ Joint Secretary will be granted reasonable time off their normal duties to carry out the responsibilities of JCUSS business, if necessary leaving the place of work during working hours (with the approval of the head of department). This includes time off to attend the termly JCUSS meeting.
In addition, they will have one day off per week to attend to JCUSS matters. This includes time off to attend a termly meeting to discuss that term’s JCUSS agenda with the University’s Joint Secretary.
University HR will make the appropriate arrangements with the Employees’ Joint Secretary’s department for their release from work. However it will be the employees’ joint secretary’s individual responsibility to seek the agreement of the head of department in advance of requiring specific periods of release. The department will maintain a record of the joint secretary’s involvement in issues of mutual concern to the University and the union.
The JCUSS Employees’ Vice Joint Secretary
The JCUSS Employees’ Vice Joint Secretary will be a member of the union which is not represented by the Employees’ Joint Secretary. They will be kept informed of JCUSS business as necessary by the Employees’ Joint Secretary.
The Employees’ Vice Joint Secretary will be granted reasonable time off their normal duties to meet the responsibilities of JCUSS business, if necessary leaving the place of work during working hours (with the approval of the head of department). This includes time off to attend the termly JCUSS meeting and to attend, with the Employees’ Joint Secretary, a termly meeting to discuss that term’s JCUSS agenda with the University’s Joint Secretary.
Accredited members of the JCUSS
Employee representatives serving on the JCUSS are expected, in addition to attending its meetings and the associated meetings of employee representatives, to consult with those who they represent about the business of the committee.
The accredited members of the JCUSS will be granted reasonable time off their normal duties to meet the responsibilities of JCUSS business, if necessary leaving the place of work during working hours (with the approval of the head of department). This includes time off to attend the termly JCUSS meeting.
Facilities for the accredited trade union representatives
1. Officers and members of the Unite Branch Committee and Unison Branch Committee
All officers and members of the branch committees will be granted reasonable time off to attend to issues of mutual concern to the union and the University (with the approval of the line manager), if necessary leaving their place of work during working hours (with the approval of the head of department).
All officers and members of the branch committees will be granted time off their normal duties to attend regular meetings of their committee, such time off not to exceed two hours per meeting, plus an additional one hour per week to deal with union matters including attending meetings, casework etc.
In addition, the following special arrangements will apply:
2. Branch officers
Unite Branch Committee:
Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Senior Safety Representative
Unison Branch Committee:
Chair, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Secretary, H&S Branch Officer
It is recognised that officers of the Branch Committees (as specified above) may require time off occasionally, and for short periods, to attend union meetings outside the University. Permission to attend such meetings will be sought from the appropriate head of department. Such permission will not be unreasonably withheld.
3. The Chair of the Unite Branch Committee
The chair (or the secretary) will be granted time off their normal duties to attend monthly meetings of the laboratory representatives, such time off not to exceed two hours per meeting.
4. The Secretaries of the Branch Committees
The Secretary of each branch committee will normally be in attendance at the union office for a period during the morning of each working day. They will be granted time off their normal duties for this purpose, such time off not to exceed one day (or two half days) per week.
The secretary (or the chair) of the Unite Branch Committee will be granted time off their normal duties to attend monthly meetings of the laboratory representatives, such time off not to exceed two hours per meeting.
5. The Treasurers of the Branch Committees
The treasurer of each branch committee, by arrangement with their department, will be granted three days off each year as required to attend to union business at Head Office, plus one hour per week to deal with associated matters (preparation for audits, etc).
6. Unite Laboratory Representatives and Unison Workplace Representatives
Unite laboratory representatives & Unison workplace representatives will be elected by their respective union to represent members in accordance with the terms of this agreement. The number of such representatives and the areas within which they will act will be as specified in the annexe to this agreement, subject to such amendments as may be agreed from time to time. The names and departments of such representatives will be formally notified to the University’s Joint Secretary of JCUSS by the Branch Secretary of the union.
Laboratory and workplace representatives will be granted time off their normal duties to attend to issues of mutual concern to the union and the University (with the approval of the line manager), if necessary leaving their place of work during working hours (with the approval of the head of department).
Unite laboratory representatives will be granted time off their normal duties to attend monthly meetings of the laboratory representatives, such time off not to exceed two hours per meeting.
Other facilities and related matters for Unite and Unison
Meetings between representatives of the University and the union will normally be held during working hours.
It is recognised that some staff covered by this agreement work outside normal working hours and that, from time to time, a staff representative might be required to attend a meeting outside these hours. In such cases the staff representative will have time off in lieu (with the approval of the head of department) or be paid overtime at the plain-time rate.
Where an urgent issue requires immediate discussion between the officers of the union and the members, a request to the HR Director for a meeting in working hours will be considered.
Facilities for members of the union to meet on university premises, normally outside working hours, will be made available whenever practicable. The union will be responsible for obtaining the necessary approval for the use of such facilities from the appropriate head of department or university officer.
If staff representatives wish to meet among themselves on university premises outside working hours, facilities will be made available whenever practicable.
Staff representatives will be allowed the use of a suitable room for private interviews with members of staff during working hours, with the approval of the appropriate head of department or university officer.
Members of the union will be allowed reasonable time off their normal duties by arrangement with their head of department to attend such training courses relevant to their responsibilities as representatives under the terms of this agreement as are accepted by the Joint Committee as being of benefit to both sides.
The use of departmental notice boards will be granted for the staff representatives and for formal union business.
All officers and members of the JCUSS, Unite Branch Committee and Unison Branch Committee will be allowed reasonable use of the internal telephone, e-mail, messenger service and reprographic facilities free of charge for employment relations purposes.
The Joint Secretary and Vice Joint Secretary of the JCUSS and the chairs of the Unite Branch Committee and the Unison Branch Committee will also be allowed to make reasonable external telephone calls free of charge for employment relations purposes.
The secretaries and treasurers of the Unite Branch Committee and Unison Branch Committee will also be allowed to use department telephones for external calls on union business.
Officers and Representatives covered by this agreement
- JCUSS: a total of six representatives, normally including one from a clinical department, consisting of:
- JCUSS Joint Secretary
- JCUSS Vice Joint Secretary
- 4 further JCUSS members (2 from Unite, 2 from Unison)
- Unite Branch Committee Chair
- Unite Branch Committee Vice-Chair
- Unite Branch Committee Secretary
- Unite Branch Committee Treasurer
- Unite Branch Committee Senior Safety Representative
- 10 Unite Branch Committee Members
- 8* Unite Laboratory (or ‘Department’) representatives
- 8* Unite Safety representatives
- Unison Branch Committee Chair
- Unison Branch Committee Secretary
- Unison Branch Committee Treasurer
- Unison Branch Committee Membership Secretary
- Unison Branch Committee H&S Branch Officer
- 10 Unison Branch Committee Members
- 11 Unison workplace representatives
- 6 Unison Safety representatives
* (or as many as elected, not to exceed 8)
 The term ‘head of department’ should be understood to include anyone nominated by the head of department for this purpose
8.6.5 Procedure for resolving differences
The procedure described under this heading will not apply in the case of disciplinary issues, which will be dealt with in accordance with the University's disciplinary procedures.
Formal individual grievances or grievances relating to two or more employees within a department will be raised within the grievance procedure for University support staff.
The parties agree that informal channels of communication within departments and institutions represent the first and preferable method for resolving problems. Both the University and the staff representatives will, therefore, endeavour to facilitate and support this approach wherever practicable, particularly through informal contact at joint secretarial level.
Collective disputes regarding issues of general application affecting more than one department will be referred by either Joint Secretary and, subject to the agreement of the chair, will be dealt with by the JCUSS or by a subcommittee appointed by the JCUSS for the purpose. At this stage the full-time officer(s) of the recognised trade union(s) will have the right to be received by the JCUSS and, if necessary, the committee will adjourn at the request of the employees' side to enable full-time officer(s) to attend.
It is accepted that in any situation in which there is a difference of opinion between the university and employee representatives, any party may wish to refer back to the body appointing them, in which case there will be provision for an adjournment of discussion of that issue for a mutually acceptable period.
In the event that an issue remains unresolved, it will be open to either side to register a 'failure to agree', either as a minuted statement during the course of a meeting of the JCUSS or a subcommittee of the JCUSS or by written communication addressed to the relevant Joint Secretary. In this event neither side will take action to affect the status quo for at least 14 days after the date on which the failure to agree was registered. Within this period it will be open to the parties to agree mutually to refer the matter for conciliation. Such a referral would normally be made to the independent Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), on the understanding that the service will be asked only to conciliate, rather than to mediate or arbitrate, on the issue in question.
Ratification of decisions
Under the University's governance arrangements, any alterations to conditions of service, or to the provisions of this agreement, which have been negotiated within the JCUSS must be formally ratified before implementation by the Personnel Committee and, where appropriate, by Council. Where such ratification is not forthcoming, the matter in question will normally be referred back no more than once to the Joint Committee for further consideration and (where appropriate) resubmission to the Personnel Committee in a modified form. If the issue still remains unresolved, it may be dropped by mutual agreement; alternatively the procedure for resolving differences, if it has not already been invoked, may be followed.
8.6.6 Termination or amendment of the agreement
This agreement may be amended by mutual agreement at any time, and may be terminated by any party giving three months' notice in writing to that effect.
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