Brexit discussion at September branch meeting – report — October 21, 2018

Brexit discussion at September branch meeting – report

Apologies for the delay in reporting back on this – we’ve been super busy with preparations for October 30 – but we wanted to fill you in on the September branch meeting and specifically our Brexit discussion.

As you will remember, we were talking about the proposed national executive committee motion to commit the IWGB to supporting a second referendum.

It was a packed meeting, and a really great example of branch democracy in action. General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee made the case for, stressing the number of our members that are here on EU passports, and the extent to which the IWGB relies on legal rulings that might be vulnerable after Brexit.

Other members opposed on a variety of grounds, most powerfully on whether the IWGB should be taking a political position full stop, and also on the likely negative effects of a second referendum in terms of the anti-immigrant rhetoric and abuse that it might provoke. The importance of securing the election of a pro-worker Labour government was also stressed.

Lots of people spoke, and in contrast to most Brexit debate the level of reasoning was high and the respect shown for diverging opinions impeccable.

In the end the branch voted to abstain.

This was the position that we took that evening to the national executive committee – who were less conflicted! Everyone else voted in favour of the motion, and going forward this will be IWGB policy.

Thanks to everyone who took part – as ever any questions do drop Danny a line at


University of London launches race equality group — October 17, 2018

University of London launches race equality group

The University of London (UoL) is introducing its first race equality group “in recognition of the under-representation of black and minority ethnic staff in senior levels”. Membership is open to everyone at UoL and participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and insights to help the university improve its “working practices and promote a positive and inclusive workplace culture”.

The launch, which takes place on 24 October in Chancellor’s Hall, 1.30–3pm, includes a presentation by Jannett Morgan, associate director for Advance HE’s Diversifying Academic Leadership programme. She will discuss the empowerment and promotion of talented people from under-represented groups. See details here.

Massive YES vote in latest University of London outsourced worker ballot — October 16, 2018

Massive YES vote in latest University of London outsourced worker ballot

Strike! Outsourced workers at the University of London have, yet again, voted in favour of strike action, with a 100% YES vote among cleaners. We will see you at the picket line on the 30 October.


Despite the University’s cynical attempts to divide the workforce, porters, security, receptionists, post room workers, audiovisual staff and gardeners have also voted in favour of strike action. For some of them this is their fourth ballot in two years.

This is a level of unprecedented unity among outsourced workers fighting together the UoL’s recent disgraceful announcement  –

Their demands are simple – more than a year after the in-house campaign and the FM Services Review was announced, they want to end the current discriminatory 2-tier employment system at the University and be treated as equals.

Full details of the huge strike on 30 October, part of the ‘Rise of the Precarious Workers’ National IWGB demo, can be found here:

IWGB’s University of London branch appoints its first BME officer — October 12, 2018
IMMEDIATE ACTION required over abusive homophobic and sexist Cordant manager – letter from IWGB to University of London — October 7, 2018

IMMEDIATE ACTION required over abusive homophobic and sexist Cordant manager – letter from IWGB to University of London

Email sent Wednesday 3 October to University of London Vice-Chancellor Peter Kopelman

Dear Professor Kopelman,

I am writing in a mixture of anger and astonishment to bring to your attention a second successive case of blatantly discriminatory behaviour on behalf of a senior Cordant Security manager and the failure of the University to deal with this.

You will be aware that in July the IWGB brought to your attention the case of Lee Smith, a Cordant manager posting openly racist and far-right material on Facebook (

Following our revelations, Mr Smith was removed from the University of London contract. However, rather than thank the IWGB for their actions, Our branch secretary was rebuked by the head of FM Services, Ghaz Alwani-Starr, for having openly revealed these details, and told that firstly this would better have been dealt with by having been brought to the University’s attention discretely, and secondly that this was not a failure of governance or the contractor, but simply one bad apple.

On both counts this has now shown to be untrue.

The current Student Central security manager, Joynal Miah, was the subject of a grievance by his own staff in July. This covered numerous aspects of his behaviour, but perhaps most notably his racism, sexism and blatant homophobia.

In the grievance notes, one of the receptionists recounts how ‘he always has a comment about women who walk past, not to them, but about them to us, like “she’s so attractive, the things I would do to her”. There was one lady who worked in Birkbeck Employability called XXXX who he was always commenting about. She told me she felt very uncomfortable around him as he was just a perv’.

The same witness goes on to state: ‘a new potential receptionist was training called Fabio. And after he’d finished Joynal said that he didn’t want that “Batty man” working here’.

Allegations of this seriousness ON THEIR OWN should have warranted at the very least suspension while a full investigation took place.

However, they were not isolated allegations. At the same time a complaint had been submitted independently by the Birkbeck employee in question. In it, she states how she had been continually harassed by Joynal. Some of the most shocking passages are as follows:

Whilst asking Joynal about the classes and services the swimming pool have on offer, he briefly mentioned that on Saturdays you get the “Batty Boys”. I didn’t quite understand what he meant by that so I asked him to elaborate further, he then went on to explain that naked gay men are here all day flaunting their bits. I found this comment completely shocking … Furthermore, I went on to say that if he was homosexual would he appreciate comments as such being made? In response to this he replied “Bitch – Do I look gay to you” – there was no need for him to insult me in this way by calling me a “bitch” at which point I was very upset and completely appalled by his attitude.

He also made remarks and inappropriate comments about the clothing that I wear like my “backside is banging in that – I would deal with that all day long!’.

This complaint was emailed to Ghaz Alwani-Starr of the University of London on 12 July 2018. The only response that the complainant received was that this would be passed onto Cordant. However, Cordant made no effort to contact her, and she received no further response whatsoever regarding this until she prompted the University herself two months later. Their reply could not have been more dismissive:

Thank you for your email and apologies you have not received a reply to your initial email. Cordant have investigated and I understand that they spoke to you as part of the investigation. They have included the investigation and the matter will remain on file’.

The fact was that Cordant had not spoken to her. Nor had they made any effort to investigate, or they might have spoken to a witness to the incident above, who stated to us:

I believe there has been a few sexual comments in regards to homosexuality which may have offended a number of people at student central. I have only witnessed or heard of one comment made about this as I was within the vicinity at the time where a staff member looked shocked by this comment made. I am not sure about the relation they both have however making a comment of such nature as well as calling a staff member a bitch did not go down very well in my opinion’.

The grievance taken out by the receptionists took two months to report (only doing so after half a dozen prompts from the receptionists and our branch secretary), and astoundingly the outcome makes NO MENTION of Joynal’s sexism and homophobia – instead merely stating that ‘there appears to be a breakdown in the relationship’ and offering mediation.

It is clear from the fact that no other witness statements were included in the grievance outcome that the whole process was a farce. Had Cordant been interested in getting to the truth of the matter they might, for example, have interviewed Fabio, who stated to us:

The individual by the name of Joynal Miah was the person that showed me around but I found him to be quite stand off and I felt that his attitude towards me could of been because of my sexuality. When XXXX contacted me and made me aware he had made that comment “I didn’t want to hire that batty boy anyway” confirmed my assumptions were correct. I feel disgusted that a person could say such words about myself and I am also questioning the university as a whole. How can you allow an individual that has a personal issue against gays and homosexuals to work in a diverse establishment.

This individual is clearly unfit to work at the University of London, an institution that confirmed only last week that its contractor are bound by its much-heralded ‘Diversity and Inclusion Strategy’, which states:

The University shall not discriminate against any person on the grounds of race, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, age, religion, social background or political belief.

Of course, there are also serious legal issues which you need to consider, such as the University’s Public Sector Equality Duty pursuant to the Equality Act 2010.

Furthermore, it can no longer be passed off as a coincidence that the University’s outsourced companies are employing and protecting managers exhibiting discriminatory behaviour of this sort – it is clear that outsourcing produces a failure of oversight and accountability which threatens the very diversity and inclusivity the University claims to hold so dear.

Indeed, it makes a mockery of the claims made by Dr Alwani-Starr in her latest FM Services Review email this week, in which she states:

In recognition that there have been issues raised with me in relation to how our contractors are applying their policies locally, I am encouraged that Cordant have over the summer repeated key training for managers and supervisors to ensure proper adherence to their own policies. We are also taking action ourselves and putting in place a rigorous monitoring system to ensure that all terms of the contracts are being adhered to’.

This rigid monitoring system clearly does not extend to excluding or disciplining managers who refer to staff and colleagues as ‘batty boys’ and ‘bitches’.

When our general secretary raised the issue of Lee Smith he ended as follows:

Now your usual tactic is to place the blame for all things outsourcing on the contractors themselves. Not this time. You and only you chose Cordant for your contracts. No one else made that decision except the University of London. This is your responsibility. I want to know what you’re going to do about it, and I want to know now.

This situation is even more serious, given the University’s role in covering it up and the fact that the staff who were brave enough to raise this issue are still at risk, as are all potential visitors and occupants of Student Central.

Can you confirm you will be taking immediate action?

Please feel free to get in touch if you need any further information.

Best wishes

Emiliano Mellino
Organiser/Press officer

IWGB General Secretary writes to UoL VC Peter Kopelman following latest in-house announcement —

IWGB General Secretary writes to UoL VC Peter Kopelman following latest in-house announcement

Dear Professor Kopelman,

On 5 September, 2018 I wrote you a long email, entitled “finding another way”, in which I extended an olive branch and offered constructive engagement, dialogue, and negotiation as a way out of the industrial relations disaster playing out at University of London.  In addition to not having the courtesy to respond to my email, it seems you are deliberately trying to make matters worse with your actions since.  Indeed, so far in your short tenure:
1. Industrial relations have worsened;
2. Outsourced workers are currently being balloted for further industrial action;
3. A national demonstration on 30 October will target UoL;
4. Not one but two of your outsourced managers have engaged in racist, homophobic, or sexist behaviour in a particularly egregious way (UoL didn’t do anything about it until we made the matter public);
5. You’ve utterly failed to understand the pressing nature of the outsourcing issue by announcing that some workers won’t be brought back in house until 2021;
6. You’ve continued to engage in the destructive game of ignoring the outsourced workers and the union they have chosen to represent them by instead schmoozing with your preferred sycophants in UNISON, which these workers interpret as a slap in the face;
7. Students have engaged in flash demos inside Senate House;
8. Plans are under way for further high profile actions which, purely as a result of your own decisions, will have a lasting and damaging impact on UoL’s reputation.
The house is on fire and you’re pouring petrol on the flames.  It’s hard to imagine how you could go about things in a worse manner, even if you tried.
If paying a bloated salary is supposed to attract the best talent, I can only imagine how bad things would be if you were paid £10.20 like the cleaners!
If at any point you care to remove your head from the sand long enough to see the writing on the wall and decide to opt for engagement rather than obstinance, feel free to get in touch.
Kind regards,


Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
In-House Campaña – Noticias! — October 3, 2018

In-House Campaña – Noticias!

Como algunos de ustedes ya sabrán, hace un par de dias la universidad traiciono a los trabajadores de limpieza, jardineros y a los de catering, diciendo que en el mejor de los casos los haria trabajadores directos (in house) en 2020 y 2021. La universidad a dicho que un pequeño grupo de trabajadores ( porteros, Audio Visual y Recepcionistas) trabajaran directamente para la Universidad a partir del verano del 2019, lo cual por un lado es claramente un intento cinico por parte de la universidad para dividir los trabajadores, pero tambien demuestra que poco a poco estan cediendo debido a nuestra presion.

Nosotros consideramos que esta oferta es completamente inacceptable y por eso le hemos escrito directamente al director de la universidad para decirle que continuaremos he intensificaremos la campaña (traduccion del correo debajo).
Ayer un grupo de estudiantes hizo una protesta sorpresa en la universidad, pero lo más importante es seguir presionandolos con huelgas.

El plan es hacer huelga a fin de mes para dejarle claro a la universidad que no nos van a dividir y que vamos a seguir luchando. Por eso es importantisimo que TODOS devulevan las papeletas de votos lo mas pronto posible!!

La universidad va interpretar el resultado de la votación de huelga como un consulta sobre su propuesta de no hacer nada hasta 2020. Si los trabajadores no votan a favor de la huelga, la universidad pensara que están contentos con lo que ha propuesto. Es importante decirles que NO ESTAMOS CONTENTOS.

Hoy mas que nunca tenemos que estar unidos todos, incluido los que se han beneficiado de esta ultima decision de la Universidad!!

Hasta la victoria compañeros!✊

Carta al Director
Estimado Profesor Kopelman,

Le escribo para expresar mi sorpresa y decepción con el mensaje enviado hoy día por su director de gestión de servicios Dr Ghazwa Alwani-Starr. Y escribo sorpresa, no porque esperaba algo diferente de los altos directivos de la Universidad de Londres, pero porque esperaba que su mandato como Vice-Rector abriría un nuevo y más justo capítulo en la relaciones de la universidad con su fuerza de trabajo más precaria.

Lamentablemente su anuncio de no garantizar que los limpiadores, jardineros y el personal de cáterin sean empleados por la universidad directamente, pero que de lo contrario se vayan a enviar propuestas de emplearlos directamente junto con otras propuestas en 2020 y 2011, muestra que está ocurriendo lo de siempre en la universidad. Tal y como su predecesor, parece estar satisfecho con ganar un salario de 6 cifras al mismo tiempo que mantiene a los trabajadores más vulnerables de la universidad en una posición de absoluta precariedad, empleados como trabajadores de segunda clase y en una situación que constituye nada menos que discriminación institucional.
Así que mientras que la Universidad de Londres continua dando largas al asunto, otras universidades han prometido emplear a los trabajadores directamente en 6 meses, como es el caso de Goldsmiths, o en un año, como el caso de Kings, donde su adjunto Ed Byrne es el director (quizá debería pedir algunos consejos).

Desafía toda lógica  que un año después de que la Universidad empezara su falsa revisión, que no incluía ningún trabajador tercerizado o el sindicato que los representa, esto sea lo mejor que pueda ofrecer. Desafía toda lógica que una institución que se supone que cuenta con las mentes más brillantes del Reino Unido, sea tan mala en gestionar sus propios servicios y no pueda ofrecer una opción in-house decente para una proporción tan grande de su fuerza laboral.

Pero quizá no debería haber sido tan ingenuo de creer que le importa la gente que limpia sus baños, su oficina y los pasillos por los que anda con otros grandes con salarios obscenos. En su experiencia estos trabajadores son fáciles de ignorar. Después de todo, se van de la Universidad pronto por la mañana antes de que usted llegue y son convenientemente invisibles.

O quizá pensaba que al hacer a una pequeña minoría de trabajadores – 95% de los cuales hombres- trabajadores directos el verano que viene y al aumentar la seguridad, podría dividir la fuerza de trabajo y aplastar la campaña de los trabajadores.
Me alegra decirle que si eso es lo que piensa, es un iluso.
Ante esta injusticia la determinación de los trabajadores de luchar es más fuerte que nunca, mientras que el apoyo comunitario crece por momentos.

Los trabajadores tienen una sola demanda: emplear a todos los trabajadores directamente para junio del 2019, o si no, junto con la comunidad universitaria y otros, intensificarán su acción hasta el punto de que usted no tendrá el lujo de ignorarlos.
Tendrá una muestra de lo que estoy hablando el 30 de octubre cuando sus trabajadores vayan a la huelga y la marcha de miles de trabajadores precarios descienda hasta la Universidad de Londres.

Con la esperanza de que entre en razón y termine esta injusticia, le envío un saludo.

Emiliano Mellino
Organiser / Press officer

Enough is enough! — October 1, 2018

Enough is enough!

Cuts hurt all of us. This is made clear in the letter below from IWGB chair Sarah Anderson to Phil Norrey, chief executive and head of paid services at Devon County Council. She is calling on all IWGB members to support foster care workers by writing to Mr Norrey ( who, while pocketing an annual salary of at least £149,995, is overseeing a policy that is bringing in salary cuts for the council’s foster care workers.

Dear Mr Norrey,

I am writing to you in support of the Devon County Council foster care workers. Like foster care workers across UK these people have not been listened to and their views have not been taken into account. It is patently unfair that many of these workers who have dedicated their incredible energy and devotion to the young people in their care are now facing unjustified salary cuts. Like everyone else foster care workers need to eat too.

As you will no doubt be aware foster care workers right across the country are coming together as part of the IWGB in historic proportions, they are saying enough is enough.

I am calling on you to declare NO CUTS, NO CHANGE.

Kind regards,

Sarah Anderson BSc (Hons)


IWGB condemns university’s institutional discrimination against low-paid workers —
Put your best foot forward and raise funds for IWGB’s legal department — September 30, 2018
Latest outsourcing developments: letter to UoL’s interim vice-chancellor — September 27, 2018

Latest outsourcing developments: letter to UoL’s interim vice-chancellor

Dear Professor Kopelman

I am writing on behalf of our outsourced members at the University of London to inform you that we are currently balloting for further strike action as a consequence of the University’s failure to make any meaningful progress on the issue of bringing workers in-house, despite its earlier commitments.

The University has completely failed to engage with workers and their chosen representatives, and as a consequence will be the focal point of the national demonstration of precarious workers on 30 October, with all of the associated negative publicity and media attention.

There is no question that the University has brought this on itself, and as a longstanding member of staff I am extremely disappointed that my institution has damaged its reputation and by association that of its staff by its failure to take decisive action to resolve its discriminatory two-tier employment situation.

This is even more galling when other institutions have shown how this can be done swiftly and in a way that maximises good-will.

At Goldsmiths [Goldsmiths, University of London], they have announced that they will bring more than 100 cleaners in-house WITHIN SIX MONTHS.

Yesterday at KCL [King’s College London] they announced that all cleaners and security would be brought in house, stating that ‘bringing the people who deliver these vital services onto our payroll and properly into the King’s community is the right thing to do‘.

The University of London could and should be doing the same thing – and will be forced to do so eventually anyway. The longer it delays, the more unnecessary harm and suffering it causes.

As ever, we await your response.

Best wishes


Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB


Questions raised by IWGB over pension implications for UoL HEE staff — September 19, 2018

Questions raised by IWGB over pension implications for UoL HEE staff

Following recent reports that the UoL is considering transferring staff to HEE, the IWGB has flagged up various issues – including that of pensions…see below for full correspondence and ask Danny ( if you have any questions:

Dear Simon

Thanks for getting back to me, and sorry myself for this slightly delayed response. I note that you should now have met with HEE HR, and look forward to hearing more.

I am sure this will have been covered in your discussions, but I wanted to flag up the issue of pensions.

Staff have essentially been assured that there are no plans as yet to transfer them to HEE, and if they are transferred they will keep their UoL terms and conditions (as per TUPE).

However, we are not clear as to whether this would cover pensions. My experience of TUPE is limited to transfers to and between outsourcing companies, but in these instances the pension scheme does NOT transfer.

Can you therefore confirm that should HEE staff currently employed by UoL be TUPE’d to HEE, they would not just retain their terms and conditions, but also membership of the SAUL / USS pension scheme?

Best wishes


From: Simon Cain
Sent: 10 September 2018 17:10
To: Danny Millum <>; Elaine Walters <>

Subject: RE: TUPE transfer of HEE staff – URGENT

Dear Danny,

I would first like to apologise for the delay in providing you with a response.

I will be meeting with my HR counterpart from Health Education England (HEE) on 18th September, after which I hope to be in a position to comment further on this matter as it relates to the University’s obligations under the ICE regulations.

In the meantime, I note that you have been forwarded a communication issued on behalf of HEE and UNISON, which clarifies that there is currently no discussion underway to transfer UoL HEE staff onto AfC contracts.

On a final note, I would like to reassure you that in that event that there is a transfer of staff, myself and my HEE counterparts, are fully aware of our respective obligations under the TUPE regulations.  The University would of course also ensure it complies with its obligations under the ICE Regulations.

Best wishes,


From: Danny Millum
Sent: 09 September 2018 19:08

Dear Simon

I have still not had a reply to the email below – would you be able to get back to me as a matter of some urgency?

I understand that you have confirmed to UNISON that even if a transfer of staff from UoL to HEE were to take place, staff would be able to retain their existing UoL terms and conditions.

I would like to clarify that this is in fact the legal position – that under the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), an employee’s terms and conditions of employment are protected when a business is transferred from one owner to another. In other words, it would be illegal for HEE to force staff onto AFC terms and conditions.

I would further note that that staff are still suffering the consequences of the massive workforce cuts implemented in 2016, and any suggestion that these staff should pay through worsened terms and conditions for an accounting error by HEE / UoL is completely unacceptable.

Best wishes


From: Danny Millum
Sent: 06 September 2018 11:29

Subject: TUPE transfer of HEE staff – URGENT
Importance: High

Dear Elaine and Simon

I understand that there are discussions underway to transfer UoL HEE staff onto AFC contracts.

Could you confirm full details of these plans if this is the case, and explain why these proposals have not been brought before the ICE forum in line with ICE Regulations?

This is a matter of some urgency so I would appreciate a response as soon as possible.

Best wishes


Danny Millum

IWGB ICE Representative

‘In-house’ fundraiser gives £2,000 boost to IWGB strike fund — September 18, 2018

‘In-house’ fundraiser gives £2,000 boost to IWGB strike fund

Thanks so much to everyone who came to the University of London ‘back in-house’ fundraiser party on 15 September, and to those who helped raise the money in a range of creative ways. These included raffle prizes donations and the organising of a well-run bingo session.

Some 200 people descended on SOAS for the event. We had an amazing time and managed to raise more than £2,000 which will help us continue the fight for justice and equality and support the next strike by outsourced workers at Senate House.


¡Muchísimas gracias a todos los que vinieron a la fiesta de recaudación de fondos para la campaña de la rama Universidad de Londres anoche, y tambien a todos quienes nos apoyaron y ayudaron a recaudar el dinero de diferentes maneras!

Definitivamente la pasamos genial y logramos recaudar más de £2000 para la próxima huelga y para seguir luchando por justicia y igualdad!


IWGB joins forces with UCL out-sourced cleaners —

IWGB joins forces with UCL out-sourced cleaners

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has been busily organising and recruiting cleaners at UCL who are currently undergoing TUPE transfer from their current contractor Tenon FM, to a new company, Sodexo. Although TUPE is designed to protect employees in this situation, history tells us they are right to be concerned.

The union recently met with this group of outsourced cleaners and their representatives, who have decided to organise en masse with the IWGB. They are tired of being exploited, badly treated, undermined and forced to work under worse employment conditions than their directly employed colleagues. Sounds familiar?

Like other IWGB members, the workers are hungry for justice and workplace equality. They will keep organising and building up towards their big campaign to have workers brought in-house at UCL.

Stay tuned for what is coming!!


 Muy buena reunion con los limpiadores y representantes subcontratados de UCL quienes han decidido organizarse en un gran numero con el sindicato IWGB después de estar cansados de ser explotados, irrespetados y con peores condiciones de empleo que sus colegas quienes trabajan directamente para la Universidad.

Ellos estan hambrientos de justicia e igualdad en su lugar de trabajo y seguirán organizandose y trabajando para su gran campaña!

¡Estén atentos para lo que se viene!

USS Pensions – the Joint Expert Panel reports… — September 13, 2018

USS Pensions – the Joint Expert Panel reports…

….the full report is here, but this is probably the key section:

Our analysis has highlighted a number of issues arising out of the methodology and
assumptions which we believe should be addressed. Furthermore, since the consultation on the 2017 valuation with employers, there have been a number of developments of relevance to the valuation assumptions. We have examined the impact of all these factors.

On the basis of our analysis we have made a number of recommendations, the overall effect of which would be to reduce the valuation estimates of the future service cost and deficit to the point where the increase is small enough to allow the Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) to be able to reach an agreement so that the issues currently facing the Scheme can be resolved, recognising that compromise may be needed on all sides.

This thread from the FT’s Josephine Cumbo summarises the main recommendations.

Jo Grady has a useful take on what it all means here.

The IWGB believes:

  • some of the recommendations relating to the valuation are to be welcomed as they show that USS have used low valuations as an argument for cutting pensions.
  • the non-binding nature of the proposals is problematic
  • the suggestion of increased contributions from workers is ridiculous, as this would be a defacto pay cut (especially given the low ball offer on pay)
  • and finally that there is clear evidence of mismanagement at USS and UUK from the report, and therefore those responsible need to go.

We’ll be discussing all this at our next branch meeting on 26 September BUT if you have any thoughts please do drop our Education Officer Jamie a line (

Finding another way: an open letter to the University of London’s new vice-chancellor —

Finding another way: an open letter to the University of London’s new vice-chancellor

Dear Professor Kopelman,

I am writing you in my capacity as General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).  Firstly, I’d like to congratulate you on your appointment as interim Vice-Chancellor and to welcome you to the University of London community.  I can assure you that many of your outsourced workers are looking to you with hope that your appointment will signify a departure from past practice and instead represent a more rational and humane approach to dealing with the industrial disputes at your doorstep.

As you will no doubt be aware, the IWGB is the largest trade union at the Central University.  We also represent the overwhelming majority of the outsourced workers.  When it comes to the outsourced workers the IWGB is the sole legitimate voice with whom the University could in good faith engage.  Unison, whilst undoubtedly able to boast high membership densities and a decent track record at other locations, for example, SOAS, cannot say the same at the Central University.

In fact they did such a terrible job that the outsourced workers left en masse  to join the IWGB.  To negotiate with Unison, on behalf of the outsourced workers, is therefore not only misguided, but is genuinely insulting to many in that workforce.  UCU on the other hand represents direct employees on grades 7 and above and as such does not even claim to represent the outsourced workers.

With this background one can assess the University of London’s strategic approach to dealing with the IWGB, which over the past few years has been as consistent as it has been ill-judged.  The University’s approach has been to respond to pressure from the IWGB in every instance (e.g. the 3 Cosas Campaign for sick pay, holidays, and pensions, the Back in House campaign against outsourcing, the triggering of the Information and Consultation procedures, etc.) by ignoring IWGB and instead engaging with the “recognised unions”.

In trying to look at the situation from an objective, analytical, and dispassionate- rather than partisan- perspective, I do understand the rationale.  The University sees the IWGB as radical, unwavering, and generally as people with whom they cannot do business.  The University views the recognised unions on the other hand as easy to work with, reasonable, and malleable.  By doing a deal with the recognised unions, the University can drape any decision they make in the shroud of legitimacy and industrial relations best practice.

The problem with this approach is that ultimately it makes the University’s problems worse, not better.  For the reasons explained above, the recognised unions have absolutely no mandate to do anything on behalf of the outsourced workers.  So negotiating with them achieves nothing.  They do not have the power to decide whether or not the campaign will continue nor do they have the power to make counteroffers that will calm the industrial strife.

Similarly, with the ICE example, trying to do a stitch up with the recognised unions instead of engaging with the IWGB in good faith resulted in two tribunal decisions against the University and uncounted wasted thousands in legal expenses.  Further, every time the University does something which feels like a slight to the outsourced workers, it only serves to pour fuel on the fire of the campaign.

I trust that the people who surround you will be pushing a certain narrative and approach when it comes to dealing with the outsourced workers, their campaign, and their union.  An approach that has been tried and failed time and time again.  I am writing to encourage you to take a step back and think for yourself on this one.

The IWGB is not some group of radical crazies with whom good faith dialogue and negotiation cannot be undertaken.  Our policies, approach, and actions are dictated democratically by the membership.  To dismiss us as radical unreasonable ideologues is to dismiss the cleaners, security guards, postroom staff, porters, and other outsourced workers who keep the University functioning as radical unreasonable ideologues.

What I would say better defines our approach is a ruthless pragmatism focused on deploying those tactics which will most effectively and quickly achieve our aims.  In the present case, our aim is to bring all workers back in house, asap, as our members believe it is unjustifiable to continuously subject the predominantly low paid, BME workforce to inferior treatment, terms and conditions.  Unfortunately, experience has taught us that high profile pressure campaigns tend to get the quickest results in winning these sorts of things.  If dialogue and negotiations were capable of achieving the same result they would absolutely be our preference.

I am therefore writing to make the same offer to you as I made to your predecessors: meet with us, negotiate with us, and we might be able to find a way out of the industrial strife.  Alternatively, the campaign will continue- we are about to begin balloting for another round of industrial action- the negative press coverage will continue, the legal cases will continue, further pressure tactics will be deployed, and the end result will be the same because we won’t stop until the workers are brought back in house on equal terms and conditions as their directly employed colleagues.

Many thanks in advance for your attention on this matter.

Kind regards,

Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary

Last chance to buy raffle tickets for Saturday’s in-house campaign fundraiser! — September 12, 2018
New officer position – BME Officer — September 11, 2018
Important – proposed motion to commit IWGB to calling for a vote on the final Brexit deal —

Important – proposed motion to commit IWGB to calling for a vote on the final Brexit deal

At the next national IWGB Executive Meeting (it sounds grander than it is) we are going to be debating the following motion on Brexit, and it would be great for members to let us know their views.

We’ll be talking about it at the branch meeting on 26 September, but if you want to email any thoughts to Danny ( beforehand that would be great!

Motion: IWGB updated policy on Brexit

Proposed by: Jason Moyer-Lee


  1. Before the referendum the IWGB had a policy to support remain, mainly due to concern over our large contingent of membership working in the UK on EU passports and due to concerns over the impact of Brexit on EU-derived employment law.
  2. Despite our policy we were not particularly active in any of the referendum campaigning.
  3. Although we have been involved in some Brexit-related activity- e.g. intervening in the Article 50 Supreme Court case in order to argue for Parliament having a vote on triggering Brexit- we have not updated our policy since the referendum.
  4. In general, it is wise for the union to steer clear of political debates, especially divisive and controversial ones. We represent a broad spectrum of members and respect their views. For this reason we are not affiliated to any political party. However, Brexit and/or the shape it takes has a direct and significant effect on the IWGB and its members and it is therefore appropriate and important for us to have a position on it.
  5. There are four key areas where Brexit, in particular a hard Brexit, is likely to have detrimental impacts on the IWGB and our members:
    1. Immigration. Nearly all of the Cleaners and Facilities Branch members are here on EU passports. A huge proportion of the University of London Branch members are as well. Some members in all of the other branches will be too. And 50% of our staff are here on EU passports. The restriction on free movement that would come with a hard Brexit could decrease these people’s rights as workers in the UK. It could make it harder for them to bring family members over. Further, the environment and discourse around immigration has become increasingly toxic, with Brexit greatly contributing to this toxicity.
    2. Employment law. A large number of employment rights are derived from EU law. The importance of EU law is that: (i) in some cases it introduces rights which didn’t previously exist in the UK (e.g. paid holidays), (ii) the law is ultimately interpreted by an EU court which on the whole is more progressive and pro-worker than UK courts, and (iii) EU law supersedes domestic law, so the Tories are unable to shred employment rights that come from the EU, even with a supermajority. The IWGB relies on EU law rights to defend members on a daily basis, e.g. paid holidays, protection from discrimination, TUPE, etc. EU law also forms a central plank to various branches’ legal strategies, e.g. the ICE regulations which are used in UoL branch. Further, the foster care branches’ current legal strategy is almost entirely dependent on EU law superseding UK law.
    3. Economy. There is virtual consensus among economists that a hard Brexit will result in an economic shock and a big decrease in government revenues. We know from past experience that those who bear the biggest brunt of any economic shock and cuts in government spending are low-paid workers, e.g. our members, who have already had to struggle against the austerity agenda. This will inevitably be the same with any negative economic impact from Brexit.
    4. Inability of Government to get anything done. Brexit is all consuming and Parliament is hard pressed to focus on anything that isn’t Brexit-related. This is particularly the case when Parliament and the current government are focussing on creating a new arrangement rather than choosing an off-the-shelf option such as remaining in the single market and adopting EU law into UK law, which would require much less change. The IWGB needs Parliament to be able to engage with non-Brexit issues, e.g. a central plank of the foster care strategy is to get Parliament to pass legislation regulating the industry. Similarly, we are calling on legislation on behalf of UPHD branch to give more powers to licensing bodies in particular to cap private hire driver license numbers.
  6. The trade union movement is becoming increasingly vocal on these issues. The TUC has called for a soft Brexit and a referendum on the final deal if it looks like the deal won’t be in the interests of workers, GMB has called for a referendum on the final deal, UNITE has left open the option of another referendum, etc. Although the IWGB is not a big player, we are of the size and profile to have an influence on certain sections of the public and within the Labour party. Therefore, our taking a position could contribute, in albeit a small way, to a concrete result which (as outlined above) would directly benefit our members. Our taking a position might also reassure some of those members who are finding themselves in a precarious position and perhaps even considering leaving the UK.


The IWGB should adopt the following updated position on Brexit, which follows on logically from our previous position:

  1. The people should be given a vote on the final Brexit deal.
  2. Failing the above, Brexit should take the softest possible form, in particular by remaining in the single market with the institution’s protections for free movement and by incorporation of EU-derived employment law.
IWGB is looking for English language teachers! —
Correction: Implementation of 2018-19 pay award will be in October — September 3, 2018

Correction: Implementation of 2018-19 pay award will be in October

We would like to apologise to members who attended last Wednesday’s IWGB meeting at Senate House where they were told that the two per cent pay award had been implemented. This was an unintentional error.

Plans are to implement the award in the October payroll. However, unions have rejected this nationally and, currently ballots for strike action are taking place.

We will keep you up-to-date with developments.


Job opportunity – IWGB Branch Organiser and Caseworker at the University of London — August 31, 2018

Job opportunity – IWGB Branch Organiser and Caseworker at the University of London

As a consequence of our recent rapid growth, expansion into new workplaces and increased campaign activity the University of London IWGB Branch is looking for a branch organiser and caseworker.

2 days a week initially, but increasing to at least 3 and possibly more in future. This is a permanent position.

The majority of our members are outsourced migrant workers, often with English as a second language, and as a consequence this requires a different approach to union organising than the traditional top down service model.

The role will involve:

  • assisting our campaigns officer, including working on the ongoing University of London in-house campaign
  • mapping workplaces and updating membership lists
  • improving branch communication both through social media, email, text and Whatsapp and in person
  • organising meetings
  • organising and liaising with workers (particularly outsourced) to increase participation, resolve workplace issues and build branch capacity
  • performing basic casework

The ideal candidate will:

  • speak Spanish (essential)
  • have experience of campaign organising
  • have experience of working with and representing low-paid outsourced workers
  • have some casework / employment law experience
  • enjoy working with, enthusing and engaging workers from different backgrounds often working long hours in a variety of precarious jobs

BUT if you think you’re up for this then please do apply – the major essential requirements are enthusiasm and commitment to a tough but unbelievably worthwhile and rewarding job!

Please send a short CV and covering letter to by 14 September 2018. Any questions contact Danny at

Everyone working for the IWGB gets paid London Living Wage + £1 (currently £11.20) and receives a good sick pay / holiday / pension package.



From today every single SOAS worker is employed directly on SOAS terms and conditions.

This is massive – they fought for TEN YEARS for this.

Huge congratulations to all the workers and campaigners – and a special shout out to the great Sandy Nicoll…

University of London?


Latest news from the University re in-housing —

Latest news from the University re in-housing

Thanks to UCU for passing on the reply below from Chris Cobb with some more concrete details as to the in-house process and timetable.

For the first time we have some almost concrete dates for some workers. The key section is below, and should be viewed as a massive concrete success for the in-house campaign, in that we now know that soon many outsourced workers will be in-house.

In other words, our tactics are working.

However, it is now even more important that we intensify our efforts when the new academic year starts to force the University to ensure ALL workers are in-house by June next year. (Details of the next steps of the campaign will follow soon!)

The current planning is focused on the following services: security, reception, switchboard, porters, post room, AV and cleaning. 

If our current planning progresses as anticipated and our plans are subsequently accepted by the Board of Trustees in the autumn, our aim would be to put in a place an in-house service provision for reception, porters, post room and AV during the second and third (calendar) quarters of 2019.

You will understand that we are not able to be absolute in our timings and the above provisional timings will be subject to discussion with our suppliers and further informed by our, and our suppliers, statutory obligations in respect of the people they (our suppliers) employ to work at the University.

The security and cleaning services are quite complex in that they involve more work streams than the other services and rely on specialist contractors to an extent that the other services do not.  The planning in relation to these services will inevitably therefore take longer.  Our aim however is to be in a position to outline a provisional timeline in relation to cleaning services by the end of October 2018 and in relation to security by December 2018.

We are not yet in a position to add anything by way of further update in relation to our hard FM, catering and grounds services for the reasons set out in the statement of 29th June 2018.  Please be assured however that we remain in active discussion with the current service providers.

The full letter is available here.

Proposal to create a new officer post – BME Officer — August 22, 2018

Proposal to create a new officer post – BME Officer

Following the recent creation of new posts for health and safety and women’s officers, it has been suggested that we should also create a black and minority ethnic officer.

Given the large proportion of BME members in the UoL branch AND the ongoing discrimination many of them face as outsourced workers we are keen to make sure that they are properly represented.

We will be voting on this at the next branch meeting (Wednesday 29 August, 1230, Lower Mezzanine Floor) and it would be great to have your thoughts and for anyone interested to volunteer.

Drop Danny if you have any questions.

Saturday 15 September! Fundraising Fiesta! All welcome! —
One university should mean one workforce: it is time to end discrimination at UoL — August 15, 2018

One university should mean one workforce: it is time to end discrimination at UoL

Despite the wishes of the majority of its staff, the biggest strikes by outsourced workers in higher education history, support from high-profile politicians, and £700,000 wasted on extra security, the University of London (UoL) refuses to commit to ending its discriminatory two-tier workforce.

Not even the acres of negative press nor the heartfelt pleas from outsourced staff, the majority of who are from BME backgrounds, have managed to make a chink in the armour of the university’s senior management team.

Incidentally, 80 per cent of the institution’s directly employed staff are white. And guess what? Unlike their outsourced BME colleagues, they have enviable pension arrangements and holiday entitlements, are entitled to sick pay and good maternity and paternity pay. Moreover, the university’s ‘dignity at work’ policy ensures they are treated with respect.

All of this point to institutionalised discrimination, and it is a disgrace.

Please email the university’s new vice-chancellor, Peter Kopelman ( and ask him to end discrimination at UoL and bring workers in-house by June 2019.




Save the date – Saturday 15 September, fundraising party for UoL in-house campaign —
First aid allowance — August 8, 2018

First aid allowance

One of the issues raised by IWGB representatives at the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) forum at the end of July related to payments to first-aiders by the University of London (UoL).

It was pointed out that the allowance, which is currently £8.50 per month, has not increased for 15 years and is not in line with other organisations. Moreover, at the time of the meeting, it transpired that some first-aiders are not even being paid at all.

The university was asked to review this, and IWGB can now report that the human resources and organisational and staff development departments are looking into the issue. This includes a review of what other higher education institutions pay for such a role.

In the meantime, any first-aiders who are not getting paid for their duties or have any questions regarding back pay should email

New officer positions —

New officer positions

Our new Health and Safety Officer, the extremely well-read Jonathan Blaney

At last week’s branch we voted unanimously to create 2 new positions:

  • Women’s Officer
  • Health and Safety Officer

Jonathan Blaney was elected as Health and Safety Officer – if anyone has any issues realting to health and saftey that they would like the union to take forward then please contact him at

Anyone interested in the Women’s Officer position should email – we’ll be electing the new officer at the next meeting!

Help us end discrimination against workers and #CleanUpOutsourcing — August 7, 2018

Help us end discrimination against workers and #CleanUpOutsourcing

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) has launched a legal challenge that could help end discrimination against the ‘invisible’ outsourced workforce that ensures that our offices, schools and universities run smoothly day after day. They include those who work in cleaning, security, receptions, catering and maintenance.

Last year the IWGB started a legal challenge over the rights of 75 outsourced workers at the University of London (UoL) who are employed through Cordant, the facilities management company. The union believes the university is the de-factor employer with ultimate decision-making power over the workers’ terms and conditions. Therefore, they should be able to collectively bargain directly with UoL, but this has been denied putting the university, says the union, in breach of article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees trade union rights.

If successful, the case, which has been given permission to be heard in the High Court, would change the lives of the 75 workers at the University of London and some 3.3 million other outsourced employees.

But the establishment is closing ranks to try and stop it. The Tory government has decided to join the University of London in resisting our challenge and will be arguing that the European Convention of Human Rights cannot be interpreted in a way that extends these workers’ rights.

Outsourced workers, the majority of whom are migrants and BAME, tend to suffer from far worse terms and conditions because they are not employed directly by the place where they work, but by third party facilities management companies.

As the Guardian columnist and economics commentator, Aditya Chakrabortty, points out “Outsourcing breeds economic apartheid, in which workers who are nearly all from ethnic minorities, including cleaners who are almost without exception women, are exploited in a way that would never happen to the mostly white academics and managers whose employment contracts are with the university.”

Despite the establishment’s attempt to stop us from taking on the anachronistic and exploitative practice of outsourcing we are determined to fight until the end. Our fantastic legal team of solicitors from Harrison Grant, and renowned barristers John Hendy QC and Sarah Fraser Butlin, will robustly challenge the university and the government.

Unfortunately, the court has denied the IWGB cost protection. This means that if the union loses it could be forced to pay the legal costs of the university, Cordant and the government. The final bill could be in the hundreds of thousands of pounds, but we are setting up an initial target for the crowdfund of £10,000.

Thankfully, we are not alone. The Good Law Project, aware of the importance of this case, has decided to back it with an initial donation of £5,000. Please Join them and help us #CleanUpOutsourcing by pledging whatever amount you can afford. See details here and here.

Any money that isn’t spent will go into the IWGB’s fighting fund, to take on other exploitative companies and practices.


Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) forum update — August 1, 2018

Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) forum update

Last Wednesday was the third meeting of the Information and Consultation of Employees (ICE) forum.

HR’s official minutes will be posted on the intranet soon (with old ones kept here) but in the meantime, detailed notes taken by one of your IWGB staff reps is available here. It was a long meeting with lots of discussion, so edited highlights are below.

As always, please feel free to contact ICE representatives with any questions, comments or matters to raise next time.

With the exception of information about policies they’re updating, everything we’ve discussed so far has been originally raised by staff so it really does work. In particular, please do let us know your views on the issue of the London weighting debate being reopened as this has the potential to positively impact staff in all areas.

IN BRIEF – matters discussed 25.7.18

London weighting

IWGB reps raised that the final amount from the previous agreement will be paid in August but the issue can be re-opened because the London Living Wage rose by more than 6 per cent (it rose by 11.5 per cent).

There will be a JNCC meeting on 6 August about it but all staff cannot attend. We will push for another meeting on this – we want your views. We will continue to raise this and keep you posted.

Business World (BW)

It was noted that staff are not happy with the delivery of the system, although Ghazwa Alwani-Starr (GA-S), present in a managerial capacity, said her impression is that everyone in her department thinks it’s great.

Reasons cited for issues with BW were that UoL (University of London) had to move quickly from Northgate (old system) to Business World in a short period of time to deliver the basic requirements needed. Market was tested and apparently Agresso is the only thing that can deliver ‘what we need’.

A lot of work was done, especially on background functions, but did not have enough time. Also issues with ‘holes in the data’ inherited from Northgate.

Problems were particularly raised re Saturday working in the Library: system was unprepared for this. The manager responsible undertook to meet library employees to discuss.

Facilities Management services review

A robust discussion took place.

G Alwani-Starr reported that a revised customer services/security model will be put to the Board of Trustees (BoT) in November.

ICE reps noted this is irrelevant. What the workers want to know is when they will be treated equally. There is a deadline for that. If that is not met, their campaign continues. Every worker who was shown the Uni’s statement on this was uncomprehending or angry. Noted that UoL is taking completely the wrong approach to this.

GA-S responded that the BoT has stated they are concerned about charitable objects and return on investment.

IWGB ICE reps noted that workers in these fields weren’t always outsourced in the past so there is no contradiction with the university’s charity or business aims, just a return to the state of 15 years ago. Reps invited Board of Trustees to come to the ICE forum and discuss it if this is confusing.


A standing item after the re-discovery of asbestos that had supposedly been removed.

The asbestos management plan is being finalised and will go to Chair of Health and Safety committee for comments/approval soon.

Referrals should be made to Occupational Health for anyone concerned.

DM: Kim Frost promised for 6 months that he would provide us with history of how asbestos issue has been handled, and left before doing so. Asked for this to be supplied.

USS pensions reform

The ‘deficit’ has been revised already – from £17bn quoted before, now saying £8bn.

Nonetheless, a proposal will be put to staff to increase contributions from 8 per cent:18 per cent to 8.8 per cent members’ contributions, 19.5 per cent employers, followed by further increases.

Information will be on intranet and Q&A sessions for staff will be held in autumn.

Dignity at work policy

… has been finalised. Much discussion about whether or not it also applies to outsourced staff. To be confirmed by next meeting.

Family friendly policies

… are being reviewed, including redundancy policy. A full list of policies under review will be communicated and circulated for comment once finalised.

University to confirm whether these policies will apply to HEE staff on UoL contracts.

First aid policy

IWGB Reps raised that payments to first-aiders have not increased for 15 years and appear not to be in line with other organisations. Some first aiders are not even being paid at all. The university was asked to review this and report back.

SAS website costs

Quote is £0.25 million. EW confident we will not pay that amount.

Lower ground floor access

CW noted staff had enjoyed use of staircase briefly. GA-S said Deller Hall staircase will reopen soon.


UCU pensions update — July 31, 2018

UCU pensions update

Below is copy of a letter from Tim Hall, UCU’s Senate House Branch Chair, updating its members on the issues around pensions and the latest information from the Universities Superannuation Scheme.


Dear Members,

I understand that this is a bit of a long one but I wanted for you all to be as informed as possible so please do take the time to read it.

By now, most of you will have received an email from HR sent on behalf of USS. The email explained what their plan for cost sharing will look like:

Under the 2017 valuation that USS approved in November 2017, contributions will eventually rise by 10.6 per cent from 26 per cent of salary (18 per cent employer, 8 per cent member) to 36.6 per cent (24.9 per cent employer, 11.7 per cent member) in order to retain the status quo.

Why is the cost-sharing rule being implemented in USS?
Members will already know that under its current valuation, USS is in deficit. USS has been claiming for months that it is legally obliged to have a plan in place for dealing with that deficit. But the Joint Expert Panel (JEP) will not make any decisions about the current valuation until September 2018, and the previous plan to recover the deficit by removing the Defined Benefit element of the scheme was left in tatters after strike action by our members: you!

As a result, USS has chosen to trigger a process known as ‘cost-sharing’, although it is better described by the phrase ‘shared contribution increases’. Under Rules 76.4–8 of the scheme, the trustee can require employers and members to increase their contributions to the rate which they deem sufficient. This decision has been made without the pension regulator’s enforcement – they are still happy for UUK, USS, and UCU to resolve this without their intervention.

We must stay vigilant because there are few signs that UUK has abandoned its long-standing goal of transferring as much of the cost and the risk of pension provision onto employees as possible. Prior to the USS dispute, UUK used a manufactured deficit in USS to represent Defined Benefit pensions as unaffordable. The JEP arose out of USS members’ growing appreciation that the deficit was, in fact, illusory, and the reforms which it had been used to justify were not needed. More information on the JEP can be found on the UCU website at this address:

Pension Contribution Calculator
Here’s a tool that lets you get an idea of how much more you can expect to pay in contributions under this new plan:

It’s important to note that UniversitiesUK had the option of taking up the extra member increases themselves should they have wished to do so, but turned it down. That would have been possible by a resolution of the JNC. UCU negotiator Sam Marsh pushed for UniversitiesUK to cover the full burden of interim cost sharing, given strike was entirely UUK’s fault and we’ve already lost a lot of money via strike deductions. This seemed a fair compromise. Again, UUK said no – hence it falls to us all.

Now it looks like USS are prepared to listen to a rethink from UUK on their ‘risk-appetite’ (which if you remember, most said they were willing to stay will current level, with some saying they’d be happy with increase – UUK decided to go with the minority of employers and push through a low-risk appetite strategy). This is an area the JEP are likely to comment on. The hope will be that a change to the Test 1 parameter will lead to a resolution to this dispute but it’s important to keep informed.

Pay Dispute
If you haven’t been following UCU’s national email communications: following the e-ballot on pay and equality members completed in late spring 2018, UCU members will now be asked to vote formally in a statutory ballot opening towards the end of August and closing in mid-October. The current employer offer is 2%. When taking inflation into account as well, it’s clear that our take-home pay will go down by more than 2% in the next year.

Bill Galvin, Chief Executive of USS, has seen a 31% pay rise over last 2 years. On top of drastic increases to the cost of living and a decade of pay-rises below inflation, we’re getting hit again with increased pension contributions. All this adding up to a hefty pay-cut. The latest imposed pension arrangements amount to a 3.7% pay cut, plus 6.9% loss of potential pay. All of this so university leaders can remove USS (i.e. our future pay) from their financial liabilities. Please bear this in mind when the UCU ballots on their 2% pay offer.

Excellent information can be found on – A website built and populated with content by UCU members volunteering their time and expertise to keep the rest of us informed.

If you have any questions please email

All my best,

Tim Hall
UCU Senate House Branch Chair


Opportunity – new post of University of London IWGB ‘women’s officer’ — July 27, 2018

Opportunity – new post of University of London IWGB ‘women’s officer’

womenAt next week’s branch meeting we’ll be voting on an exciting proposal – to create a new post of ‘women’s officer’ for our local branch.

As women’s officer you would:

  • Support and encourage women members to take an active role in the branch
  • Work closely with the national women’s officer on campaigns affecting branch members
  • Form connections with other women’s groups to promote solidarity
  • Be point of contact for campaigns and issues affecting women members in particular

As well as anything else you want to bring to the role!

Contact Catherine Morrissey ( for details.

We’re looking to build on the success of the fantastic 10 July IWGB Leading Women event, which highlighted the discrimination that outsourced women at the University of London face, and featured a fantastic line-up of speakers:

Mildred – LSE cleaners/UVW

Catherine Mayer – women’s equality party

Ayesha Hazarika – comedian/former labour adviser

Liliana Almanza – UoL cleaner/IWGB

Councillor Bélgica Guanía – 1st Ecuadorean councillor in U.K. – lab (newham))

Nilufer – activist in TGI Fridays campaign

Marta Luna Marroquín – retired cleaner & veteran of 3 cosas campaign at uol / IWGB

Lucia Zapata – general secretary of Socialist Youth, Uruguay

Meg Brown – Chair, Couriers & Logistics branch IWGB


Taller sobre derechos laborales en el Reino Unido – Sabado 28 de Julio — July 25, 2018
Details on the SOAS in-house transfer — July 20, 2018

Details on the SOAS in-house transfer

At a recent FM Services meeting at Senate House, Chris Cobb, the University of London’s chief operating officer, attempted to play down SOAS’s plans to bring their outsourced workers back in-house by 1 September. Below Danny Millum, the IWGB’s branch secretary, responded to his claims that the SOAS situation does not compare to that of the University of London.

Dear Chris

Following last week’s FM Services meeting, I just wanted to clarify a couple of issues that were raised relating to the SOAS in-house process.

Firstly, I can confirm that this is proceeding as planned, and will be completed on the planned date of 1 September 2018. The relevant documents are attached, and I think it’s very clear from these what a straightforward process this is. Secondly, you stated in the meeting that the University of London was 4 times bigger than SOAS. However, I have had it confirmed that the SOAS transfer will involve 160-170 employees, and at the University we are probably talking about around 300, so I think it’s important to be clear that the difference between the two cases is much less than was claimed.

Thirdly, it is worth noting that prior to their in-house announcement SOAS was occupied for weeks and had been subject to endless protests and bad publicity. Since Baroness Amos made her clear announcement they have had a year without problems and controversy.

I hope this clearly shows that SOAS provides a straightforward model that the UoL could and should adopt tomorrow, which would be benefit workers and University alike.

Best wishes


Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB


London Weighting – secret clause in 2015 deal could mean a further increase for UoL staff! — July 18, 2018

London Weighting – secret clause in 2015 deal could mean a further increase for UoL staff!

So if you remember the London Weighting campaign, we ended up having to settle for a gradual increase up to c3500 – and the University suggested that the issue was now closed….

However, it’s come to our attention that there was a clause in the original agreement which allowed LW to be revisited if the London Living Wage went up by more than 6% by 2018.

They obviously thought it wouldn’t happen – BUT IT DID!

We have just sent the following email to Simon Cain and Chris Cobb – do give Danny ( or Rebecca ( a shout with any thoughts….

Dear Simon

I am writing with regard to the issue of London Weighting at the University of London, which as I am sure you were aware was the subject of a campaign in 2014/2015 which saw the following offer eventually imposed:

  1. LW to increase by equal amounts of £273 every year from 1 August 2014 up to £3,500 on 1 August 2018. The rates would therefore be:

01/08/2014   £2,407

01/08/2015   £2,680

01/08/2016   £2,954

01/08/2017  £3,227

01/08/2018   £3,500

  1. LW to be consolidated into basic pay with immediate effect.
  2. Any national pay increases in the period to 2018 to only apply to pay less LW (i.e. LW will not go up any further than the amounts specified above in the four-year period). Any national pay increases after 2018 will be applied in full to consolidated pay;
  3. If the London Living Wage (currently £9.15) rises by 6% or more between now and 2018, London Weighting can be reviewed again during that period. If the rise in the LLW is below 6% then discussions will not be entered into.

As you can see, the trigger for the London Weighting settlement to be reopened was to be a rise of MORE than 6% in the London Living Wage.

The London Living Wage rose to £10.20 in November 2017. This is an increase of 11.5% on the 2014 rate.

As such, it is clear that London Weighting has been completely outstripped by the cost of living in London as defined by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission, based on the best available evidence about living standards in London and the UK.

 Can you therefore confirm that London Weighting will be reviewed, in line with the commitments made by the University at the time?

Best wishes


University of London accused of shirking responsibilities to Lunchbox staff —

University of London accused of shirking responsibilities to Lunchbox staff

lunchbox-cafe-student-central-london1The University is continuing to press ahead with plans to shut the Student Central Lunchbox cafe and make staff redundant, despite IWGB objections that:

  • the consultation thus far has been a sham
  • the cafe is a resource for the wider University community
  • promises made to staff when Aramark took over the cafe less than 2 years ago have not been kept.

A UCL student told us that the closure came as ‘a complete surprise. This is a communal area that is really widely used and it’s not fair on us or the staff to just shut it down to build more offices’.

University of London staff, for whom the cafe had been a particularly valuable meeting point during the recent strike action, also complained that they had not been consulted over the decision to close.

The IWGB has flagged up the fact that the University customarily provides enhanced redundancy for its own employees, whereas its catering contractor Aramark pays only the statutory minimum. This means that long-standing employees stand to lose up to £10k having been transferred less than 2 years ago to Aramark with assurances that ‘nothing would change’.

Since then they claim the company has forced them to use its own expensive and substandard suppliers and has failed to invest, effectively forcing what had been a thriving concern into insolvency.

The IWGB has called for the process to be halted and a proper consultation to take place – if you want to knwo more do just email us at

University of London’s outsourcing manager under fire for racist Facebook posts — July 10, 2018

University of London’s outsourcing manager under fire for racist Facebook posts

IWGB’s general secretary demand immediate action over racist and far-right posts by Cordant manager who oversees two of the University of London’s five outsourcing contracts

Dear Chris Cobb,

I am writing to you, in my capacity of General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), to express my grave dismay at the fact that the person you have chosen to oversee your outsourced contracts is openly xenophobic and racist.

The person in question is Lee Smith, the Cordant manager who oversees two of your five outsourcing contracts, in particular with respect to cleaners, porters, security guards, receptionists, and postroom staff. As you are well aware, the overwhelming majority of these workers are migrants.

The matter has come to my attention as his Facebook page, which is accessible to the public and has been seen by various of the outsourced workers he oversees, is replete with anti-immigrant, xenophobic, racist, and race-baiting posts.

I suggest you give it a look yourself, but to see just a small taste on what is on offer, the below suffices: an homage to Enoch Powell, a joke about how immigrants in the UK are benefits scroungers, and a joke about how Polish people are cleaners. For good measure he also wants fascists to have free reign to propagate their hate (see post about Tommy Robinson).

Now for some time we have been making the case that outsourcing, at least the way you do it, is inherently discriminatory. You have a predominantly BAME and migrant workforce which work on far inferior pay, terms and conditions, and treatment compared to their predominantly white British directly employed colleagues. And our members certainly feel as though they are bearing the brunt of the discriminatory policy.  But these recent revelations take the matter to a whole new level.

For now, in addition to working under inferior terms and conditions, the workers are being supervised by someone who thinks they shouldn’t even be here in the first place. Given some of the hostile interactions some of the workers have had with Lee Smith, including on one occasion Lee Smith aggressively pushing and shoving one of our members, needless to say, some of our members are deeply unsettled.

Of course, there are also serious legal issues which you need to consider, such as the University’s Public Sector Equality Duty pursuant to the Equality Act 2010.

Now your usual tactic is to place the blame for all things outsourcing on the contractors themselves. Not this time. You and only you chose Cordant for your contracts. No one else made that decision except the University of London. This is your responsibility. I want to know what you’re going to do about it, and I want to know now.

Kind regards,

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary


Birkbeck Justice for Workers Campaign Update #2 —

Birkbeck Justice for Workers Campaign Update #2

Below, is an extract from a letter from Birkbeck Justice for Workers, which provides an update on its campaign to bring Birkbeck, University of London’s cleaning, catering and security staff back in house. They also share a letter in solidarity received from the South Africa’s Outsourcing Must Fall movement.

Dear all,

Our campaign is gathering pace. We have over 450 signatures on our petition – we’d love to get that to 500, so please keep sharing with your friends and colleagues. Birkbeck UNISON are having positive negotiations with management and we know the weight of support for our campaign is strengthening our hand. We have also received a heart-warming message of solidarity from the Outsourcing Must Fall movement in South Africa – you can read that below.

The message of solidarity mentions fighting unions. We’d like to thank the University of London IWGB for joining us at our demonstration last month.

Best wishes

Birkbeck Justice for Workers


Solidarity from #OutsourcingMustFall Campaign, South Africa

We write to you in solidarity with your struggle for the insourcing of workers at Birkbeck College. Our struggle against outsourcing received national prominence during the student protest against fee increases in 2015 when insourcing of workers was included as part of #FeesMustFall movement’s demands. The solidarity from students raised the profile of our struggle against poor working conditions and wages we had endured since our universities introduced outsourcing of what it called, ‘non-core functions’ in the late 1990s.

Although outsourcing is commended as ‘cost effective’, ‘efficient’, ‘productive and strategic’, it has been shown through a cost accounting analysis based on the experience of the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, that it results in increased ‘transaction costs’. These include cost creep from an increase in complaints and worker unrest, the loss of coordination efficiencies and of tacit skills and organisational memory (Adler et al., 2000, in Dumba, 2014).  The combination of these elements have shown the opposite of organisational efficiencies claimed to justify outsourcing.

Notwithstanding the victories scored to be insourced at some of the institutions in South Africa, there is still a long road ahead against outsourcing in our country. Not only are many higher education institutions still using workers from outsourced companies, the #OMF  has had to extend its campaign to include the whole of the public sector where cleaning, security, catering and landscaping services have been outsourced at local, provincial and national government level including parastatals.

We have combined different tactics of protests such as pickets, occupations and strikes to make our voices heard. We have also approached political parties to pass motions against outsourcing in the Legislature but we have yet to see results from this approach.

While we have worked with a union, and many members of #OMF have subsequently joined this union, we have had to fight on two fronts, of the union and #OMF campaign. The latter has proven to be much more flexible to respond to the immediate concerns of workers. We are also of the view that our campaign has the potential to revive and rebuild fighting unions in the process of struggling to ensure outsourcing does fall.

We wish you all the success with your struggle against outsourcing at Birkbeck College.

Yours in solidarity

#OMF Co-ordinating Committee Convenor

Executive Mukhwevho


IWGB training and workshops – Talleres de capacitacion y entrenamiento — July 8, 2018

IWGB training and workshops – Talleres de capacitacion y entrenamiento

The IWGB is organising two training and workshop events on Saturday 21 July (10.30am–4.30pm) for English speakers, and the second on Saturday 28 July (10.30am–4.30pm) for Spanish speakers.

This will take place at the Institute of Advance and Legal and Studies (IALS), room; Council Chamber at 17 Russell Square, London WC1B 5DR.

This training and workshop will be an opportunity for you to learn essential organising skills and get informed about latest important policies such as data protection and employment rights, so it is important that you attend the whole session in order to make the most of your learning.

The workshop will feature the following topics:

  • Campaigning and recruitment
  • Union structures
  • Media training
  • Data protection
  • Employment Law:  main speaker, Nicola Countouris (UCL professor of labour law and European law).

The event is open for union officials, representatives, volunteers and case workers who will need to confirm attendance by the 10 July 2018 in order to book a place by sending me an email to or a text to: 07922810798.

 Please confirm your attendance as soon as possible as lunch will be provided!

Finally, please note that the Employment law session which will run from 3–4.30pm  is open to all members and non-members so it would be great if you could advertise this widely .

Many thanks


El sindicato IWGB esta organizando dos eventos de talleres de entrenamiento y capacitacion, el primero el sábado 21 de julio de (10.30am–4.30pm) para los que hablan Ingles y el Segundo el dia sábado 28 de Julio para hispano hablantes. 

Este tendrá lugar en el Institute of Advance and Legal and Studies (IALS), salon; Council Chamber en 17 Russell Square, Londres WC1B 5DR.

Esta capacitación y taller será una oportunidad para que aprenda habilidades organizativas esenciales y se informe sobre las últimas políticas importantes, como la protección de datos y los derechos laborales, por lo que es importante que asista a toda la sesión para aprovechar al máximo su aprendizaje.

El taller presentará los siguientes temas:

  • Campaña y reclutamiento
    • Estructuras del sindicato
    • Entrenamiento de cómo hablar con medios comunicación
    • Protección de Datos
    • Leyes laborales:

El evento está abierto para oficiales del sindicato, representantes, voluntarios y asistentes de casos quienes deberán confirmar su asistencia antes del 10 de julio de 2018 para reservar un puesto enviando un correo electrónico o un mensaje al: 07922810798

Por favor, confirme su asistencia tan pronto sea posible ya que se proporcionará el almuerzo!

Finalmente, la secion de Leyes Laborales la cual es de 3-4:30pm esta abierta para todos los miembros y no miembros asi que seria importante que lo publiciten con todo el publico.

Muchas gracias

Henry Chango Lopez


Protest! Support women fighting to end outsourcing at the University of London — July 4, 2018

Protest! Support women fighting to end outsourcing at the University of London

Outsourced women workers and their colleagues at the University of London (UoL) will be protesting for equal rights with direct employees.

The protest on 10 July outside Senate House will highlight UoL’s hypocrisy as it holds events nominally in favour of women’s rights, while denying decent terms and conditions to migrant and black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) women.

It will coincide with the university’s ‘Breaking the Silence: Women, Leadership, and #MeToo’, event with speakers including Catherine Mayer, founder of the Women’s Equality Party, and is part of its #LeadingWomen season, which aims ‘to break down the barriers women still face in education and the workplace today’.

Your pay – latest! —

Your pay – latest!

Just a very quick update on this year’s national pay offer, which as you know is a desultory 2%!

UCU have announced that their members have voted overwhelmingly to REJECT the offer in their consultative ballot.

This means they will ballot for real in August for strike action over pay.

As agreed in our branch meeting, the IWGB’s policy is also to reject the pay offer – we will keep you posted as to next steps, but if you have any questions do just drop Danny a line (

IWGB supports call to repeal anti-union laws, establish strong right to strike — July 2, 2018

IWGB supports call to repeal anti-union laws, establish strong right to strike

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is backing the call supported by a growing number of trade union branches and organisations for repeal of all anti-trade union laws and their replacement with positive legal rights for workers and unions to organise and take industrial action.

In a recent statement, initiated by the Lambeth local government branch of Unison, welcomes the policies to this effect passed at last September’s Labour Party conference and seeks to ensure they are carried out.

As Labour’s policy says, “for unions to be effective workers needs an effective right to strike”. This requires the anti-union laws, from the 2016 Trade Union Act back to Margaret Thatcher’s first Employment Act in 1980, to be scrapped. In their place we need strong legal rights to organise, strike, win reinstatement, and establish recognition and collective bargaining. As far as possible the law should aid workers’ self-organisation, not hinder it.

We call on other labour movement organisations, from branches up to national unions, to also add their names to the statement, and look forward to taking part in coordinated campaigning on this.



We need abolition of the anti-trade union laws, which hamstring workers organising and taking action, and their replacement with strong legal workers’ rights. Otherwise we are fighting the challenges of low pay, insecurity and lack of rights with our hands tied behind our backs.

We applaud the 2017 Labour Party conference’s unanimous call for repeal of not just the 2016 Trade Union Act, but also the “anti-union laws introduced in the 1980s and 90s” by the Tories and maintained after 1997; and for a “strong legal charter of workers’ rights”“For unions to be effective workers need an effective right to strike”. This builds on the unanimous 2015 decision that the next Labour government should “legislate for strong rights to unionise, win recognition and collective bargaining, strike, picket and take solidarity action”.

We will campaign for:

  • Complete and speedy repeal of all anti-union laws.
  • Strong legal rights for workers to join, recruit to and be represented by a union; strike/take industrial action by a process, at a time and for demands of their own choosing, including in solidarity with any other workers and for broader social and political goals; and picket freely.
  • The right to reinstatement for workers found to have been sacked unfairly. A complete ban on dismissal for industrial action, however long it lasts. Full rights from day one of a job.
  • Strong rights for unions to access workplaces, win recognition, and establish collective bargaining, including sector-wide bargaining.
  • Unions’ right to decide their own policies and activities, determine their own structures and rules, and spend their funds as they choose, free from state and employer interference, in line with ILO Conventions and the European Convention on Human Rights.


IWGB applauded for standing up to the ‘gig economy giants’ — July 1, 2018

IWGB applauded for standing up to the ‘gig economy giants’

IWGB’s fight against organisations such as the University of London, which continues to trample over the employment rights of its outsourced workers, features on the politics page of the Guardian.

The article, “The tiny union beating the gig economy giants”, describes IWGB’s grassroots fightback that is helping to win basic rights for couriers, cleaners and other workers on zero-hours contracts.

It highlights a range of the union’s successful actions including last month’s Deliveroo case in which 50 couriers won a six-figure payout because they had been denied rights including the legal minimum wage and paid holiday. More important, the article pays particular attention to IWGB’s ongoing ‘back in house campaign’ at the University of London.

Written by Yvonne Roberts, it quotes from Glen Jacques’ letter in which the receptionist warns: “Every pyramid is only as strong as its foundation, and if the foundation is not maintained to a high standard, the pyramid will, in time, collapse.” And it includes profiles of three of the workers who run the union – Mags Dewhurst, part-time bicycle courier and IWGB vice-president; Sarah Anderson, chair of the union’s first foster care workers’ branch; and our president, Henry Chango Lopez.

Read the full Guardian article here.

IWGB questions proposed closure of Lunchbox café and subsequent redundancies — June 26, 2018

IWGB questions proposed closure of Lunchbox café and subsequent redundancies

Less than two years after staff working at the Lunchbox café in Student Central were TUPE’s to Aramark from University of London employment, plans are afoot to close the outlet. This would mean the loss of a vital shared space for students in Bloomsbury and potential redundancies.

There is no doubt that with proper investment this could be a profitable concern.  IWGB is appealing to the university to reverse this decision and recognise its wider responsibility for Bloomsbury’s student and academic community, and has today contacted Vivienne Shinner, Aramark’s director of operations (see below), to call for clarification and question the hasty nature of the formal consultation process, which is taking place without adherence to due process.

Dear Viv,

I have been informed by affected staff that there are plans to close the Lunchbox café at Student Central with a number of potential redundancies.

This information was communicated to staff at a meeting on Wednesday 20 June, at which they were also informed that the formal consultation process had begun.

As with previous Aramark restructures, it is clear that due process is not being followed here.

  1. Aramark has immediately entered into formal consultation over redundancy with no attempt being made over preceding months to improve the situation or involve staff.
  2. Insufficient information has been provided for this to constitute a meaningful consultation – all that staff have been told is that the outlet has been suffering ‘difficult trading conditions’ and has made a loss of £12.6k over the last 10 months. Without more detail as to the financial situation (previous profit levels, turnover, investment or lack thereof) it is impossible for staff to participate properly in this process.
  3. No consideration whatsoever has been given to the role that the café plays as part of the wider University community, and the impact the loss of this facility and this space will have on the student experience more widely, as well as the other outlets based in the building.
  4. This comes only 2 years after the restructure which saw staff TUPE from the University of London to Aramark. It is a damning indictment of the lack of resource that has been put into the café that Aramark are now looking to close a previously thriving café.
  5. You state in your letter that this is merely a consequence of ‘difficult trading circumstances’. However, in the meeting you said that the decision had in fact been made by the University of London – which of these is in fact the case?
  6. Coincidentally, this comes at a time when Aramark and the University have been forced by the IWGB campaign to end zero-hour contracts at the UoL – it would appear extremely convenient that Aramark have chosen this moment to try and save money by making staff redundant.

Could you please provide full detail of the financial position of the café and the decision-making process / alternatives considered prior to this point?

Could you also confirm who on the University of London side is responsible for this decision?

Can you confirm that in ANY redundancy package staff will receive the enhanced redundancy terms accorded to University of London staff?

Best wishes,



IWGB #LeadingWomen event to highlight University of London’s unfair treatment of outsourced women — June 25, 2018

IWGB #LeadingWomen event to highlight University of London’s unfair treatment of outsourced women

The University of London’s ‘vague and noncommittal assurances’ to bring workers in house creates a back door out of which it can retreat at any time. As a result, IWGB Women’s Officer Catherine Morrissey has written to the University of London to annouce that in the absence of a concrete date for bringing outsourced workers in-house tthe IWGB will be holding its own #LeadingWomen event on 10 July at Senate House ( to highlight the negative impact of outsourcing on women.

Dear Chris,

As you will be aware, outsourced staff at the University of London recently voted to continue their ‘back in house’ campaign, after receiving vague and noncommittal assurances – via an announcement made not to them, but to their directly employed colleagues – of the University’s intention to bring workers in house ‘where there is an opportunity and clear rationale’.

I am sure you can understand why this wording (which creates a back door out of which the University can retreat at any time), and the lack of a clear and accountable timescale, is not acceptable to the workers, and is wholly insufficient to halt the campaign which has already seen the university spend well in excess of £500,000 on additional security, not to mention the financial and reputational losses it has suffered from disruption and cancellation of events.

The next planned event in the campaign will be a protest on 10 July, coinciding with the rescheduled ‘Leading Women’ event with which the University presumably aims to bolster its credentials as a forward-thinking and aspirational institution.

As Women’s Officer of a trade union representing a diversity of marginalised groups, naturally I’m delighted to see the University of London promoting equality. But while the University pushes ahead with a series of events celebrating its historic steps to advance the rights of one group, current University management seem unaware of the irony of prolonging a situation which denies rights to another.

The focus of our protest will be our very own outsourced #LeadingWomen, who for years have been leading the fight to be treated with dignity and respect by the institution in which they work. They are determined to continue the campaign until they receive a direct and unambiguous commitment to bring all outsourced workers in house within 12 months.

The workers and their demands are perfectly reasonable. So, if you would like to enter into meaningful discussions to prevent further disruption, we would invite you to do so at the earliest opportunity.

Kind regards,

Catherine Morrissey
Women’s Officer, IWGB
Chair, IWGB Legal Department Subcommittee
University of London IWGB member


End outsourcing at Birkbeck: petition and demonstration — June 20, 2018

End outsourcing at Birkbeck: petition and demonstration

The campaign to end outsourcing at the University of London is picking up momentum.

Birkbeck had decided to start its own in-house campaign beginning with a demonstration on 26 June, and a call to sign the ‘Birkbeck Justice for Workers’ petition as detailed below.

Dear all,

Sign the Birkbeck Justice for Workers petition:
Join the demonstration: outside the Birkbeck main building, Tuesday 26 June, 4–6pm

There is inequality at the heart of our university. Cleaning, catering and security staff are outsourced. The workers get lower wages and worse conditions, such as sick leave and pensions.

UNISON and the other trade unions at Birkbeck are organising the campaign to end outsourcing: we want the workers brought back in-house. This means they would be directly employed by the university. We believe that these services are essential: without cleaning, catering and security, there could be no teaching or research.

We ask that Birkbeck commits to bringing all of its outsourced workers back in-house within six months, without any reduction in jobs or services. This means the workers will get equality when it comes to pay, sick leave, holidays, pensions; and also access to the library and IT, study assistance, family leave, and an end to zero-hours contracts in catering.

We call on the Master of Birkbeck, Professor David Latchman, to make a written commitment to this effect as soon as possible.

How you can support the campaign:

Best wishes


Birkbeck Justice for Workers