Following a two-day strike on the 25 and 26 April 2018, outsourced workers from the University of London are taking further industrial action today (6 June 2018), in an ongoing fight to end outsourcing and zero-hour contracts.
Approximately 130 outsourced workers – including cleaners, security officers, receptionists and postroom staff, among others, who are members of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) – will be taking part.
Following the industrial action taken in April, the University of London central administration has announced that it will start a process to end outsourcing and bring its facilities management in-house. However, due to the perceived lack of clarity of its statement, regarding both the timeline and which contracts will be affected, IWGB will proceed with action today.
For the time being, the union will also be continuing its landmark joint employer case against the University of London, which seeks the right for employees to negotiate pay and conditions directly with the university.
Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, IWGB general secretary, said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates that collective action and pressure works. The university has clearly understood the current situation is untenable and that they need to do something. But it also shows that the University will always try and squeeze every last penny out of its outsourced staff. Until the University of London announces the termination of all outsourcing on a reasonable timescale, IWGB will continue to campaign.”
Margarita Cunalata, IWGB representative and University of London cleaner, added: “We’re glad that the university has finally acknowledged our repeated demands to be given equal terms and conditions as other workers. However, putting us in this limbo is completely unacceptable. We will continue fighting until we are made direct employees and treated with the dignity we deserve.”
A spokesperson from the University of London said: “It is very disappointing that the IWGB are continuing to disrupt the University’s operations, particularly after the Board of Trustee’s decision to bring services in-house where they support strategic priorities.
“The University of London instigated a review of the contracted facilities management services in November 2017. The Board of Trustees met on 23 May and considered the report and recommendation from the Review Group: the University will develop an efficient provision model in which in-house services are supported by contracts designed to provide both the specialist expertise and the flexibility to respond to the varying needs of the University.
“In practical terms, these initiatives will be progressed over the next 12 to 18 months, with some services being brought in-house in 2018/19 where there is an opportunity and clear rationale for doing this, although the process will be phased in over subsequent years.
“In the coming months and years the University Management will work closely with the recognised trade unions and current contractors to transition staff into the University, as well as work urgently to address issues that have been highlighted during the review, such as the elimination of zero hours contracts.”