8.6 Recognition Agreement: Joint Committee for University Support Staff

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.

8.6.2 Recognition

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

Membership

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-Chairman (Employee Relations) of the Personnel Committee and will act as chairman 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.

Joint secretaries

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 Personnel Services. 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.

Meeting arrangements

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 chairman, 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 chairman that a special meeting be arranged; a special meeting will normally be held within 10 working days of such a request.

Remit

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 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 chairman, 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.

8.6.5 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.