Issue 7: October 2014

In this issue of The Young Quaker:

  • News from Quaker protests at the British Museum
  • What happened at Yearly Meeting Gathering, the largest gathering of British Quakers in years
  • A report back from the YF(GM Free) weekend about Mental Health

Plus: news from Palestine, lots of reasons to visit Georgia in 2015, and a job ad from Geneva.

Read it here:

TYQ – Oct 2014 (Web, 1,088 KB)

TYQ – Oct 2014 (Print-ready, 9,514 KB)

One thought on “Issue 7: October 2014

  1. Peter Coltman

    I would like to correct the factual inaccuracies in Leslie Black’s article entitled ‘Contradictions at Friends House’.

    All staff who work for the Hospitality Company are employees of Friends House similar to the rest of the staff there; terms and conditions are overseen by the Employment Committee which is clerked by Elaine Green and of which I am a member. The committee is also attended by the Recording Clerk and by members of Unite union with which the employers negotiate.

    The hospitality industry has traditionally relied on zero hours contracts to deal with fluctuating demand and the Hospitality Company has had four staff on this kind of contract. This has been a matter of concern to us, and to Friends in general, for some time because this kind of contract makes employees carry risks and robs them of benefits which other kinds of contracts avoid. Also our zero hours employees do not have to accept work offered and they sometimes refuse it. This can make scheduling difficult so it is in the interests of everyone to bring these contracts to an end. We had already taken steps to mitigate some of the liabilities to employees but earlier this year we tried to replace the zero hours contracts with variable hours contracts which would guarantee the employee a minimum of 14 hours work a month. This was initially accepted by the union which then withdrew and asked for a minimum of 14 hours a week. We could not afford to accept this.

    In the case of the Hospitality Company, a lot of fluctuations in demand relate to academic terms. For example, we have now signed a ten year contract with Birkbeck College to use our premises during term time and this means that demands for staff have become more predictable. We therefore decided to create a number of posts which will offer a fixed number of hours during specific times of the year. These will replace the zero hours contracts. Those employees technically become redundant because they have not worked for us for more than four weeks. However, they will be able to apply for any of the fixed hour contracts, as appropriate.

    The point that I want to underline is that all of this has been negotiated with the union; we go forward with their agreement and the arrangement has now been ratified by the Employment Committee. So the comment in the article that we have breached ‘an informal agreement with the union’ in taking this action is absolutely untrue. On the contrary, we have worked with the union and we have their support and agreement on these issues.

    I am much concerned that you should publish an article which is factually inaccurate and which implies that we are dishonest in our dealings with staff. On the contrary, my desire is make the Hospitality Company a truly ethical business which exemplifies Quaker testimonies and values. This presents challenges and dealing with the nitty-gritty of employment issues Is one of them. But just as our Quaker forebears became known for their honesty and plain dealing in business, I want the Hospitality Company to be known for the quality of service it offers and the integrity of its practices.

    The opening of the Large Meeting House offers great opportunities here. Already, bookings for next year outstrip our targets – this means that thousands of people who have probably never heard of Quakers will come to Friends House. We want to show what practical Quakerism means in the way that we meet and serve them.

    Peter Coltman,
    Chair, Board of Directors, The Hospitality Company

    Reply

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