Dear Mr. Eastwood/ Edgbaston Park Hotel management (Mr. Van Wijk, Ms. Conway, Mr. Orr, Mr. Richards, Ms. Shill, Mr. Varsalona)
I am writing to you to declare my support for the ongoing Birmingham University Unison and UCU campaign to boycott Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre. As a local resident/ potential customer of the hotel and someone who has frequently taken advantage of the facilities the university offers to the wider community, I was disappointed to discover the terms and conditions that staff are made to work under at the hotel and conference facilities.
While it is great to see further investment from the university in Edgbaston and the local area, EPH provides a perfect example of how this same investment has not been extended to the individuals that keep these facilities ticking over: the employees.
The reasoning behind setting up the hotel as a ‘wholly owned subsidiary company’, which claims independence from the university, while at the same time relying on its’ services, reputation and image, has become increasingly clear. This was done in order to outsource staff and services so that people who work at the hotel are not recognised in collective bargaining and trade union agreements, and to permit them to be paid less and receive worse terms and conditions than those employed directly by the university.
Aside from the lack of union recognition, I find it striking that EPH staff only received a pay rise of 1p in 2019, merely bringing their pay in line with the national minimum rate of £8.21/hour, that staff at the hotel are only given 2 weeks notice of redundancy, and that EPH staff receive only 15 days of sick pay after 3 years of service. This is in addition to the fact that all working hours include bank holidays and weekends, and working hours are not fixed with managers frequently changing the number of hours employees work at short notice.
This is not what I would expect from an institution which proudly presents itself as the first ‘civic university’ in the UK, and which is keen to highlight its contributions to the local community. First and foremost I would expect ‘civic’ engagement to be about investing in people and treating individuals with respect both in and beyond the workplace.
Taking into account the above and in accordance with the Unison and UCU campaign, I will be boycotting any events at EPH and encouraging friends and family to send their custom elsewhere when looking to book accommodation locally, unless and until the university and directors of EPH agree that all outsourced workers are brought in-house and employed directly by the University on the same terms and conditions as other directly employed staff.