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March, 2019:

Collective Dispute regarding remote working

Dear Members,

yesterday we sent a letter – posted in full below – to our Head of Human Resources invoking the Collective Dispute Procedure and requesting a series of meetings to resolve the issue of staff members being unable to complete their jobs to their full ability due to restrictions placed on our working location, sometimes accompanied by bullying behaviour from their management.

If you have anything you’d like to add regarding this issue – good practice as well as bad – please email UCU@uwl.ac.uk and copy in your School Representative.

We will keep you informed of this process, and in the mean time would ask you to comply with appropriate (and polite) requests for information about your work and your whereabouts, but you do not need to ask permission to be away from your desks, nor should you feel pressured to fall into ‘presenteeism’.

thanks to everyone for their support,

Rosey (Branch Secretary), Jose (Branch Chair) and Barry (Regional Official)


Dear Neil,


We are writing to you formally in order to invoke the Collective Dispute Procedure, agreed between UCU and UWL as an appendix to the Joint Agreement on Recognition and Procedural Arrangements in 2014. In accordance with this, we request a sequence of meetings to resolve an issue which is continuing to cause problems across the University.


It is apparent that a range of different policies and approaches are operating across the university, which are aimed at coercing and in some cases bullying members of the academic staff to be sitting at their desks on a 9am to 5pm basis. We have seen examples of communications being sent to groups of staff which clearly seek to ‘name and shame’ individuals without any apparent respect being paid to the professional nature of the academic contract of employment, or the flexibility that staff are required to show to students and to the University. An examination of the UWL academic contract of employment, the Duties and Responsibilities Handbook for Academic Staff and the Academic Employment Framework does not assist us in identifying what right management have to insist upon this level of inflexibility. Rather, the whole basis of the express terms of all of those documents is framed around flexibility, and cannot possibly accommodate the creation of an institutional culture of mistrust.


UWL does not have a clear policy on working location, other than in the most general terms. It is our view, therefore, that a number of managers around the University are acting outside of their remit, and outside of the contractual rights of the University, in attempting to enforce presenteeism.


When we meet, we will be happy to explain in detail why this approach is both unacceptable to the Union and counter-productive for the University, but we will be explaining to our members that any blanket requirement for them to be physically at their desks to a strict working day should be resisted until we have resolved the issue through negotiation. To be clear, our position is that professional academic staff should comply with appropriate (and polite) requests for information about their work and their whereabouts, but that they are not obliged to seek permission to work away from their desks, whether that be at other locations in the University or outside.


Your proposals for a suitable time and date to meet would be appreciated, along with any ideas you may have for resolving the substantive dispute.



Best wishes,



Jose Abdelnour Nocera,

Branch Chair, University and College Union at University of West London


Rosemary Stock

Branch Secretary, University and College Union at University of West London


Barry Jones,

Regional Official, University and College Union