UCL’s Bad Move — October 11, 2019

UCL’s Bad Move


Today, UCL outsourced workers at IOE were given letters stating that “they should not speak to press” and were told they could breach company policy if they decided to speak out about their working conditions.

IWGB’s General Sectetary has written to UCL’s Provost to warn him about this bad move and alert him of the possible consequences:

Dear Professor Arthur,

I am writing to give you the opportunity to correct yet another idiotic blunder of your contractors.  You might remember that when I wrote to you on 16 September, offering the opportunity to avoid a campaign (which you rejected), I put a little side note to your contractors (who were copied in), saying: 

“I know it might be tempting when reading this to try and prove your worth to UCL by reacting in some way towards the workers. Let me take this opportunity to tell you that’s not a good idea.”It seems unfortunately my advice as not been followed as the attached document was handed out to cleaners, porters, etc.  As you can see, and not for the first time, Sodexo management is a little confused as the document is clearly meant to be instructions for them on what to say to staff and not a document to be handed directly to staff.  Or, in the terminology of Sodexo, the message was meant “to be cascaded via line manager during team huddle”.  But as you and the general public will become more and more aware of over the coming months, this sort of incompetence is par for the course with cowboy contractors.

But more seriously, the message says that workers are not to speak to press or express views about their work on social media.  Apparently this is set out in the “what to do in a crisis” document.  I’m glad you guys are recognising UCL is now in a crisis, but having your contractors attempt to silence your workers through intimidation is no way to deal with it.  
Professor Arthur, if you don’t want UCL cleaners to talk about their exploitative working conditions, then don’t exploit them.  If you don’t want them to talk about the inherently discriminatory outsourcing regime at UCL, then end the regime.

I suggest you correct this and I suggest you do it now.  Given that this threat comes off the back of widespread coverage of the proposed strike of outsourced workers, which comes as part of an anti-outsourcing campaign against UCL, it is quite clear that the threat is being made on your behalf.  If not corrected, this will have consequences for you both from a campaign perspective and a legal perspective.  I’d also encourage you to think for a moment about the backlash UCL would receive if you actually followed through on the policy and discipined a cleaner for telling the Guardian how she is compelled to work sick because she has no occupational sick pay.  I’ll give you a hint: it would be a PR disaster.

I look forward to the correction being made as a matter of urgency.  The IWGB and its members will not be intimidated by these desperate tactics, and we will not hesitate to take whatever legal action is required to put an end to them.  And as long as you continue to exploit and discriminate, we will make sure the world knows about it.

Kind regards,  

Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary

Hundreds of UCL cleaners, porters and security to vote on strike action over pay and conditions — October 9, 2019

Hundreds of UCL cleaners, porters and security to vote on strike action over pay and conditions

Hundreds of UCL cleaners, porters and security to vote on strike action over pay and conditions

  • Strikes will be part of the IWGB’s campaign, launched on 8 October, to end outsourcing at UCL.
  • Workers have far worse conditions than directly employed staff, including not being paid the first three days they are off sick.
  • The IWGB has documented a number of management failures and discriminatory practices, including the failure to pay over £15,000 in holiday pay to 30 workers.

9 October: The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is to ballot cleaners, porters and security officers for strike action at London’s largest university, UCL, in what could be the biggest strike ever of outsourced workers in UK higher education history.

The IWGB will be balloting almost 300 workers over their terms and conditions, as part of the union’s campaign, launched yesterday (8 October), to end outsourcing and zero hours contracts at UCL. The strike ballot will specifically demand the outsourcing companies that manage the security contract, Axis, and the cleaning contract, Sodexo, put cleaners, porters and security officers on the same terms and conditions as UCL’s direct employees. The results of the ballot are expected on 5 November.

Outsourced workers receive worse sick pay, pension, holiday pay, and parental leave than their in-house colleagues. They are also more likely to suffer from bullying and discrimination than directly employed workers.

Specifically, while direct employees can receive up to 26 weeks of pay when they are off sick, outsourced workers are on the statutory minimum, which means that they get no pay on the first three days they are off sick, after which they are entitled to £94.25 a week. This means that many workers chose to work while sick, rather than risk losing a day’s pay. (See comparisons of other conditions in notes below)

IWGB University of London branch chair and former UCL cleaner Maritza Castillo Calle said: “UCL would not be able to function without its cleaners, porters and security officers, however for years the university and its contractors have been happy to treat them like second class workers. They are overworked, underpaid and mistreated, while UCL is happy to look the other way when issues are raised about the abject failure of its contractors to treat people with basic dignity. We gave UCL a clear deadline by which to present a plan to end outsourcing which it failed to abide by. Now we are left with no option but to strike.”

Over the last year the IWGB has also documented a number of severe management failures and discriminatory practices by the outsourcing companies.

The IWGB brought complaints on behalf of 30 Axis security officers that were owed over £15,000, when the company failed to properly pay their holiday pay over a period of three months, between December and February. Following these formal complaints by the University of London branch secretary, the money was paid, but there have been other instances of non-payment of holiday pay since.

In March, Sodexo tried to introduce a biometric time management system, which would require cleaners, the vast majority of whom are migrant workers, to have their fingerprints scanned when logging in and out of work. Following a collective grievance, and protests by the IWGB and its members, the introduction of this discriminatory system to monitor workers was called off.

In September, the IWGB launched a collective grievance on behalf of 30 cleaners and porters who complain that managers assign them an excessive amount of work, resulting in significant levels of exhaustion and stress. Attempts by management to further increase these workloads have so far been stopped by the intervention of IWGB reps.

BREAKING NEWS: Imminent Campaign at UCL — October 7, 2019

BREAKING NEWS: Imminent Campaign at UCL

BREAKING NEWS: Just hours before the IWGB’s in-housing deadline to UCL expired this afternoon, we heard that UCL intends to offer parity of terms and conditions with in-house staff to outsourced security guards, which would be a massive improvement on the status quo.

But parity of terms and conditions is not the same as going back in house, as it does not address issues of accountability, mistreatment and mismanagement. What’s more, there is no clear timetable for delivery of this and nothing has been offered to the cleaners and porters.

Later this evening we received an insultingly lazy response email from  UCL to our letter of demands, which was totally non-committal and offered no guarantees of any progress whatsoever.

UCL Clearly thought they could prevent an IWGB campaign with this last ditch move. But it has not worked. The deadline has expired. Our members will be launching their campaign tomorrow morning!

CoSector and ICT restructure and redundancies – important information for all staff — September 24, 2019

CoSector and ICT restructure and redundancies – important information for all staff

Please see below for an important email on the current restructure and redundancies from IWGB branch secretary and ICE rep Danny Millum.

Dear all

I am writing in my capacity as an ICE Forum representative to share the latest information with regard to the ongoing CoSector and ICT restructure, and in particular how this may affect the rest of the University of London.

You may be aware that on Wednesday 11 September a meeting was held for affected staff at which plans were unveiled for a radical restructure of both the CoSector and ICT departments.

The ostensible justification for this is for ICT to expand its remit and take direct responsibility for the University’s Information Technology and Digital Services and for CoSector to focus on growing external revenue.

ICE reps and affected staff have been prevented from sharing the more detailed plans with you by the University’s desire for secrecy. However, we believe it is important that all staff are at least aware of the following points regarding these proposals:

  1. They will involve a reduction in headcount of around 20 FTE, with longstanding members of staff finding their positions abolished and facing what is in effect compulsory redundancy.
  • They will involve a significant decrease in the levels of IT support available to the rest of the University. For instance, it is planned to reduce the number of roles in Central IT Support from 14.5 to 10, in the Networks team from 5 to 3 and in the Server team from 6 to 4.
  • No explanation has been given as to how these already overstretched teams will be able to maintain current service levels with a vastly reduced headcount.
  • No justification has been given for why compulsory redundancies are being threatened despite CoSector being in profit.
  • No explanation has been given for why the senior management team has been exempted from these changes, with senior managers being awarded new ‘Associate Director’ titles in many instances.

Needless to say staff in the affected departments are extremely concerned and will appreciate your support. However, we believe it will affect all staff at the University, given the vital functions that these staff perform. 

The consultation is currently ongoing, so it would be great to get feedback from staff across the rest of the University with regard to these plans. Several extraordinary ICE meetings are being held so that we can feed back to the University and get more information from them on these proposals. So please do get in touch with your local ICE reps in person or by email and let them know what you think, or to submit questions which they will ask on staff’s behalf:

CoSector: Colin Watson

SAS: Lindsey Caffin, Danny Millum, Mark Murphy, Damien Short and Marty Steer

UoLW: Tim Hall, Bill Kelliher and Catherine Morrissey 

Finance & ICT: Angela Ireland

Senate House Library: Leila Kassir and Elizabeth Morcom

Property and Facilities Management: Jelony Osa

Best wishes


BREAKING NEWS: Outsourced workers at UCL formally demand to be brought in-house! — September 17, 2019

BREAKING NEWS: Outsourced workers at UCL formally demand to be brought in-house!

This morning Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the IWGB, delivered a letter to the Provost of UCL with an ultimatum: bring the outsourced security officers, cleaners and porters in-house by October 7th or face a strong and well-organised campaign by the workers and the union!

Read the letter to the Provost here.

The IWGB represents the majority of security and around 150 cleaners at UCL, and has been building towards a campaign for the past 18 months, holding breakfast stalls, outreach visits to isolated buildings, and working with members to elect reps among the workforce.

The outsourced employees, many of them migrant workers, have endured years of poor management, disrespect, low or missing pay, and exploitation by the third-party companies that employ them – Axis and Sodexo – companies not exactly known for their respect for human rights or the well-being of migrants… 

Now, through the union, these workers are taking a stand and demanding justice. By being brought in house, they will be eligible for the same rights, sick pay, holidays, maternity pay, and pensions as their directly employed colleagues and will be able to hold UCL accountable for any issues they face at work, rather than having to negotiate with faceless third-party companies.

UCL is the behemoth of London unis, the second biggest university in the country and the only remaining major London university not to have committed to ending the outsourcing of its workers. We would not be commencing this battle if we did not feel the workers, the union, and the rest of the university community were ready to win.

We hope that Michael Arthur will be wise enough to agree to this, or at least to enter into negotiations. If not, we will be with the workers every step of their way in their struggle.

If you are interested in being involved in the campaign (we welcome students past and present, members of staff, and anyone else), please leave your details here.

University of London staff call for equal rights on annual leave — September 12, 2019
Health Education England staff submit collective grievance over ‘illegal’ TUPE —
Meet our new BAME Officers – Ruqayyah Al-Faisal and Hosne Ara — September 6, 2019

Meet our new BAME Officers – Ruqayyah Al-Faisal and Hosne Ara

We are delighted to introduce our two new new BAME officers, unanimously elected at this week’s branch meeting – Ruqayyah Al-Faisal and Hosne Ara!

You can contact them with any relevant issues at uolbame@iwgb.co.uk, but please read on to find a little bit more about them.


My name is Ruqayyah Al-Faisal and I am a receptionist working for the University of London. Whilst working here I’ve faced many challenges and encountered racism, sexism and discrimination.

With IWGB and my coworker Hosne we fought against the individuals concerned and prevailed. In doing so we showed that fighting back is the only way your voice can be heard.

So I am honoured that IWGB has elected me to be a union officer for those others who wish to be silent no longer.



Hi! I am Hosne Ara, working at the University of London for last five years! I have been always dedicated myself to make a difference to people’s lives especially those who need help. I believe I can make a positive impact by ensuring that ethnic minority workers adjust well to the work environment and feel valued.

I appreciate all the support from IWGB that I have received. I thank all of you who have voted me to be a voice of all race and culture, and I will ensure that all ethnic minority voices are heard.

Academics urged to support Senate House boycott over treatment of staff — September 3, 2019
Muchas Gracias, Charlotte! — August 30, 2019

Muchas Gracias, Charlotte!

September, as ever, is a time of change; of endings and beginnings. As we look forward to welcoming new students to the campaign, we must bid farewell to those moving on to other exciting endeavours.

At this morning’s UCL breakfast stall we said a very sad goodbye and a HUGE thank you to Charlotte, one of our UCL student volunteers who is graduating and moving abroad. Charlotte has been an amazingly valuable member of the team this year, fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, dependable and friendly, and somehow ALWAYS bringing smiles and laughter to our all-weather 8am breakfast stalls.

We presented her with a card, signed by UCL cleaners, security officers, union reps and students, full of words of thanks. We wish her all the best for the future, look forward to welcoming her back one day, and in the meantime will be giving her a proper IWGB send-off at the University of London strike fundraising fiesta at New Speak House tonight…

Come and join us – see you there!

Union branch seeks BAME officer — August 19, 2019

Union branch seeks BAME officer

We have a vacancy for the position of Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Officer! The previous incumbent, David Kalanzi, is now working part-time for the IWGB as a case officer (congrats David) and so we need a volunteer or volunteers to take this on! The only requirement is that you be from a BAME background and be keen to defend the rights and represent the interests of all our BAME members! If you are interested or have any questions then please drop David a line at davidkalanzi@iwgb.co.uk.


¡Tenemos una vacante para el puesto de Oficial de Minorías Étnicas (BAME officer)! El titular anterior, David Kalanzi, ahora está trabajando a tiempo parcial para el IWGB como caseworker (felicidades a David), por lo que necesitamos un voluntario o voluntarios para asumir este rol. ¡El único requisito es que sea una minoría étnica y esté dispuesto a defender los derechos y representar los intereses de todos nuestros miembros de minorías étnicas! Si está interesado o tiene alguna pregunta, envíe un mensaje a David a davidkalanzi@iwgb.co.uk.

Richard Gott library sale —
Fundraising party to end exploitation and discrimination at UoL — August 15, 2019

Fundraising party to end exploitation and discrimination at UoL

The IWGB is holding a party on 30 August to raise much need funds to help support its campaign to end the exploitation of, and discrimination against, outsourced workers at the University of London (UoL).

Taking place at Newspeak House, 133 Bethnal Green Road, east London from 7pm-2am, it is set to be a lively, family-friendly affair. There will be music from DJ King Batuka (UoL security officer by day, Afrobeat DJ by night!), Cali Salsa Show with Rita Barberio, Salsa classes, raffle prizes and much more.

ICE Forum next week – let us know your issues — August 9, 2019

ICE Forum next week – let us know your issues

The next meeting of the ICE Forum is on Wednesday 14 August, and we’re just writing to see if there are any issues that you want raising.

We will definitely be bringing up the issue of holidays for grade 1-6 staff (please let Mark Murphy (mark.murphy@sas.ac.uk) know if you have not already signed our petition on this!) as well as the ongoing security situation, but please do let us know (uol@iwgb.org.uk) if there’s anything else we should be flagging up.

See here for the agenda and previous meetings.

La lucha continúa, después del desayuno… (The struggle continues, after breakfast) —

La lucha continúa, después del desayuno… (The struggle continues, after breakfast)

This morning students and IWGB reps at UCL held their weekly breakfast stall outside the Roberts engineering building at the UCL main campus. In addition to the usual spread of croissants and pastries, IWGB member Jose brought three fresh loaves of delicious Colombian bread which were extremely popular. 🥖🥖🥖 ☕️☕️

Lots of UCL cleaners came along to share food and talk, and two decided to become members of the IWGB – Independent Workers Union of Great Britain ! 💓✊✊

The breakfast stall is a great way to keep in touch with our members, but some are unable to come since they work in buildings that are located further away from the main campus or have several jobs. So we have also been busy organising lots of visits to different UCL buildings in order to reach more members! 🚀 🏦🏫

If you would like to get involved in the campaign at UCL, we would love to hear from you. You can find us on Facebook at UCL Justice for Workers or email charliemacnamara@iwgb.co.uk and we will get back to you with more information about what we do and how you can support workers in their fight for better employment conditions at UCL. 🤜🤛

University of London In-House Campaign Strike Fundraising Party! Friday 30 August! — August 7, 2019

University of London In-House Campaign Strike Fundraising Party! Friday 30 August!

Help the IWGB raise money for the next round of outsourced worker strikes at the University of London as they fight to be brought in-house!

All members, supporters, family and friends are welcome to our fundraising party on Friday 30 August from 7pm – 2am at Newspeak House, 133 Bethnal Green Road.


– Music from DJ King Batuka (UoL security officer by day, Afrobeat DJ by night!)
– Cali Salsa Show with Rita Barberio
– Salsa classes
– Raffle prizes from 50 – 150 in cash
– Free bar on donation and great Latin American food
– Family friendly atmosphere
– Tickets: Suggested donation £5 /Solidarity £10

All proceeds go to the Senate House In-House campaign strike fund!

Anyone interested in helping or selling raffle tickets should contact Maritza (maritzacastillocalle@iwgb.co.uk)

Cleaners and porters at UCL’s IoE in mammoth collective grievance — August 5, 2019

Cleaners and porters at UCL’s IoE in mammoth collective grievance

At UCL’s Institute of Education (IoE), workplace representative Carvalho and IWGB organiser Laura represented the building’s over thirty outsourced cleaners and porters in a collective grievance hearing that lasted for around three hours.

At issue were excessive increases in workload, unpaid overtime, lack of opportunities for paid overtime, and the absence of privacy and spaces to eat and get changed.

As a result of the hearing, passionately argued by Carvalho and Laura, management has agreed to conduct an investigation into the workload of each cleaner, porter and supervisor at IoE, including possible breaches of health and safety and racial discrimination regulations.

What’s clear is that conditions at IoE – and indeed across UCL – need to change, and fast. This is being achieved by the solidarity and community developing between these workers and the IWGB, leading to increased confidence to take on and hold to account UCL and outsourcing company Sodexo.

Well done to Carvalho and everyone else who worked together on this case! Hasta la Victoria!

University of London branch secretary writes to HEE regarding ongoing dispute — August 1, 2019

University of London branch secretary writes to HEE regarding ongoing dispute

Dear Lisa,

I understand that Gary has now left HEE (Health Education England), so I am addressing my response to his email to you – please feel free to forward as necessary.

I don’t want to get into too much detail, but to concentrate on issues where we are in agreement, namely that:

  1. Had there been no TUPE, UoL HEE staff were due to receive an annual payrise of 1.8% dated from 1 August 2019.
  2. Because of the TUPE, UoL HEE staff are scheduled to make substantially higher pension contributions from 1 August 2019.
  3. Post TUPE, UoL HEE staff will be much cheaper to make redundant than their AFC colleagues.
  4. This burden falls disproportionately upon level 4 staff at the top of their bands as they stand to lose over £4000 pa should they transfer to AFC under the current mapping arrangements.

In order to address these, can you therefore confirm that you will devote some of HEE’s estimated £2.1m annual VAT savings to:

  1. Guarantee that the 1 August 2019 payrise will be implemented.
  2. Compensate UoL HEE staff for pension hikes OR adjust their mapping onto AFC scales, either way ensuring no detriment.
  3. Confirm enhanced redundancy terms for UoL HEE staff to match those of AFC staff.

We would be happy to discuss this in person in the interests of reaching agreement, and look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

“Farewell, everyone”: Rebecca Dooley steps down as assistant branch secretary — July 30, 2019
HEE staff to escalate campaign after successful (and extremely hot) strike action — July 26, 2019

HEE staff to escalate campaign after successful (and extremely hot) strike action

Yesterday saw the first day of strike action by HEE staff on UoL contracts, who are fighting against a planned TUPE transfer which will see take home pay massively cut, with low-paid administrative staff worst hit.

There was a great turnout for the strike, including not just IWGB members but other affected staff, some of whom decided on the day itself not to cross the picket line and to join the protest instead!

It was also great to see support from other IWGB members from elsewhere in UoL – cleaners, security and SAS and SHL staff all came down to help flier and to bolster the confidence of colleagues who in many cases were taking strike action for the first time.

After the usual music, drumming and noise of an IWGB strike, the picket concluded at noon as temperatures soared to record levels, with staff vowing that should the TUPE (planned for 1 August) continue in its current form they would escalate strike action.

This could now involve not just staff on UoL contracts but also those already working on Agenda for Change terms and conditions – many of who expressed support for the strike.

It is clear that the dispute is now broadening, to encompass not just the original demands of UoL HEE staff for no TUPE or no detriment but also those of all staff affected by excessive workload, stress and a culture of bullying and micro-aggression within HEE.

Thanks to everyone for their support yesterday, and if you want to know more or get involved please just email dannymillum@iwgb.co.uk.

Health Education England staff to strike – 25 July! — July 12, 2019

Health Education England staff to strike – 25 July!

IWGB members working on University of London contracts at Health Education England facing a forced TUPE have voted overwhelmingly for strike action – and we have given notice that the first strike day will be Thursday 25 July!

Three years ago UoL HEE staff suffered workforce cuts of 40%. Since then the remainder have worked tirelessly to keep the service going, despite a massive spike in workloads and stress levels.

Rather than recognise the commitment and dedication of their staff, however, HEE and UoL are now seeking to make them pay the price for their own failure to acount for a £12m+ VAT bill via an unjustified and unjust TUPE transfer.

Staff are being asked to choose between 2 options:

Option 1: Transfer onto AFC contracts (what this means for a grade 4 staff member at the top of their scale)

  • Salary cut of up to £4200 per year
  • Pension contribution increase of £100+ per month
  • Loss of at least 3 days holiday
  • Working an extra 130 hours a year

Option 2: Remain on UoL contracts

  • Pay frozen forever meaning a year on year fall in living standards
  • No collective bargaining
  • Loss of 3 days holiday
  • Statutory redundancy

Obviously both of these are terrible options, and as a result IWGB members have voted for strike action.

To find out more just email Danny – dannymillum@iwgb.co.uk

Climate Strike – 20 September 2019 — July 11, 2019

Climate Strike – 20 September 2019

A recent SOAS UNISON branch committee meeting passed a motion to organise a branch-wide walkout in support of the climate strike planned for the 20 September 2019 and to host a meeting with other central London colleges and workplaces to co-ordinate activity on the day.

The climate strike on the 20 September is supported by UK Student Climate Network, Extinction Rebellion, Campaign Against Climate Change and more.

All interested local trade union activists, students and climate activists are welcome to attend this gathering on 18 July, which is provisionally booked to take place in room B202, SOAS (second floor of the Brunei Gallery building opposite the main entrance), 6pm.

It is an opportunity to both update each other on what actions are being planned for the climate strike day, and to attempt to co-ordinate and collaborate as much as possible.

UoL’s campaigning cleaners extend olive branch to new vice-chancellor — July 8, 2019

UoL’s campaigning cleaners extend olive branch to new vice-chancellor

Cleaners at the University of London (UoL) have extended an olive branch to the university’s incoming vice-chancellor asking her to meet with them. Welcoming Professor Wendy Thomson to her new role, their letter (published below in English and Spanish) also expressed the hope that this presages a new approach to resolving the issue of outsourcing which has dogged the university under her predecessors.

Dear Professor Thomson,

We are writing on behalf of University of London’s outsourced workers to welcome you to your new job.

We wish to express our frustrations regarding our treatment at the hands of the institution you now represent, but we want to take this opportunity to invite you to change this situation and get rid of the shameful legacy left by your predecessors.

Most of us have had to migrate to London due to the crisis or lack of opportunities in our countries of origin. In many ways we were lucky to find work here. However, at the same time we are deeply disappointed by how little value is given to the work that we provide every day to the university.

The University of London, hiding behind outsourced contracts, has refused to recognize us as part of its community and to value our work, which makes this institution possible. Despite strikes, protests, multiple petitions and public campaigns, your predecessors refused to recognize us as a legitimate party and to negotiate with us and our union. This expresses the discrimination and prejudice that permeates an institution that has decided to systematically ignore migrant workers who have fought with for their rights with determination.

We would like to take this moment of your arrival as new Vice Chancellor to extend an invitation to:

  • have dialogue with us in order that we can express our wishes as to why we want and deserve to be part of the University of London
  • negotiate with us in order to terminate outsourcing so that the university takes direct responsibility for our employment.

If we do not have the opportunity to meet with you, do not doubt that we will continue fighting for our rights to be treated with equality and enjoy the same terms and conditions as the rest of the workers of this university.

Our struggle will continue in the form of protests, boycotts, strikes, and publicity campaigns and you can be sure that we will not stop until your institution ensures equality for all workers.

Our warmest regards,

The IWGB In-House Committee (on behalf of the outsourced workers of the University of London)

Liliana Almanza, Margarita Cunalata, Alex Gonzaga, Olga Alvarez Perez, Elisabeth Cárdenas and Onaily Carreno

Spanish translation

Estimada Wendy Thomson,

Deseamos darle la Bienvenida a su nuevo puesto de trabajo, aprovechando su llegada a su cargo como Vicerrectora de la UoL queremos manifestarle nuestras frustraciones con respecto al trato recibido por parte de la institución que representa. No obstante, también queremos aprovechar este momento para invitarle a cambiar esta situación y desembarazarse del vergonzoso legado de sus predecesores en el cargo.

La mayor parte de nosotros hemos tenido que inmigrar a este país por debido a la crisis o falta de oportunidades en nuestros países de origen. Tuvimos la suerte de poder encontrar trabajo en esta institución. No obstante, al mismo tiempo nos sentimos profundamente decepcionados por el poco valor que se da al trabajo que cada día prestamos a la universidad.

La Universidad, escondiéndose detrás de la subcontratación, ha rehusado a reconocernos como parte de su comunidad y valorar el trabajo que hace posible esta Institución. Pese a las huelgas, protestas, múltiples peticiones y campanas públicas, sus predecesores se negaron a reconocernos como una parte legítima y a negociar con nosotros. Esto expresa la discriminación y perjuicio que permea una institución que ha decidido ignorar sistemáticamente a trabajadores migrantes que han luchado con determinación por sus derechos.

Aprovechando la oportunidad de su nuevo desempeño laboral como Vicerrectora de la UoL, como trabajadores que somos parte también de la Universidad de Londres, nos gustaría extenderle una invitación:

  • a dialogar con n el fin de manifestarle nuestros deseos de porque queremos y merecemos se parte de la Universidad de Londres
  • a negociar con el fin de poner fin subcontratación de manera que la universidad asuma la responsabilidad de nuestro empleo.

Si no tenemos la oportunidad de reunirnos con usted, no dude en que continuaremos luchando por nuestros derechos a ser tratados con igualdad y disfrutar de los mismos términos y condiciones que el resto de trabajadores de esta universidad. Nuestra lucha seguirá en la forma de protestas, boycotts, huelgas, campanas de comunicación….no dude que nuestra determinación no cesará hasta que su institución asegure igualdad para todos los trabajadores.

Un cordial saludo,

Los trabajadores subcontratados de la universidad de Londres, a través de sus representantes:

Liliana Almanza, Margarita Cunalata, Alex Gonzaga, Olga Alvarez Perez, Elisabeth Cárdenas and Onaily Carreno

No to the fingerprint! An IWGB victory at UCL — July 7, 2019

No to the fingerprint! An IWGB victory at UCL

The fingerprint machine on its way out of the building.

Outsourced cleaners and porters at UCL’s Institute of Education (IoE), many of whom are IWGB members, have won a collective victory against discriminatory workplace monitoring. Their employer, outsourcing giant Sodexo, will no longer be introducing a new Time Management System, which would have required the workers to clock in and out using biometric fingerprint technology.

It was in March that the workers first complained about the proposed system and Sodexo’s failure to consult them on it. The IWGB and UCL UCU soon wrote a joint letter to Sodexo and UCL criticising it as ill-considered, discriminatory, and likely to violate privacy guidelines. The workers also wrote to Sodexo and UCL demanding an “immediate stop to the implementation of this system“. After the IWGB disrupted a meeting in which a manager was attempting to encourage compliance with the new system, Sodexo indefinitely suspended its plans. Now, the fingerprint machines have finally been removed from the premises.

This is a tangible result of workplace organising and solidarity at UCL, where much still remains to be done. If you’d like to learn more about the struggle at UCL or to get involved, you can contact UCL Justice for Workers.

IWGB ‘Housewarming party’ for UoL’s new Vice Chancellor – Friday 12 July 5pm — July 5, 2019

IWGB ‘Housewarming party’ for UoL’s new Vice Chancellor – Friday 12 July 5pm

The new Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, Wendy Norman,has now taken office, and exploited outsourced workers are organising a welcome party for Friday 12 July at 5pm.

Workers will be writing to Wendy to request a meeting, and we are hopeful that the new VC will mark a break with the disastrous and discriminatory policies of the past, and that this party will be a celebratory one!

To give the VC a warm welcome on behalf of all the exploited outsourced workers of UoL, join us and demonstrate outside Senate House on Malet St. We’ll be demanding the University of London ends discrimination, takes direct responsibility for the employment and working conditions of outsourced workers and brings them in-house now!

Three ways you can support IWGB’s groundbreaking legal work — June 28, 2019

Three ways you can support IWGB’s groundbreaking legal work

What does IWGB’s legal team get up to? And what can you do to help?

IWGB is winning major changes for workers’ rights. We’ve won groundbreaking test cases against companies like Uber. These victories are helping to transform the lives of thousands of mostly low-paid, migrant workers.

Our case-workers also represent 100s of individual members each year, challenging unlawful deduction of wages, denial of sick pay or failure to respect maternity rights. In the last few months alone, we’ve won £118,000 in settlements for members facing gender discrimination, unfair dismissal and bogus self-employment.

We need your help to do more. Please support the work of IWGB’s legal team by:

1. Sponsoring our team for a half-marathon – please click here to donate

2.  Fundraising for the team – please share this post with 5 friends or colleagues

3. Joining the team to walk or run the half-marathon in London on 19 October. There’s an achievable fundraising target of just £75 each and we’ll have a great day. Contact amyhorton@iwgb.co.uk if you’re interested.

Victory for striking IWGB couriers —

Victory for striking IWGB couriers

With support from IWGB’s UoL branch, courier members at The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) have won a decisive victory over pay and conditions.

Earlier this year TDL, a company that provides pathology services to the NHS, shelved its autumn 2018 pay proposal, using excuses such as “having to follow legal advice on employment status”. As result IWGB entered into dispute and prepared for the first ever TDL strike. A huge thank you to everyone who joined the picket line and sent messages of solidarity – it was really heart-warming and massively helped empower a work force that was feeling nervous standing up to their employers.

After two more negotiation meetings, IWGB has secured prompt improvements to the offer which will be implemented from 1 July (and backdated if delayed). The offer includes:

  1. Night work (between 10pm-7am) will be paid at an enhanced rate of 12.5% higher than the day rate.
  2. Couriers who accept the new hourly rate will be paid from when they call in from home or the Halo building (depending on what they currently do), and mileage will also start from this point.
  3. PAYE couriers will be offered motorbike/van/pushbike with fuel card.
  4. Couriers who prefer to stay on dockets (paid per job), or their current mode of payment are welcome to do so.
  5. Those using pushbikes will now get £13.50 as TDL accepts they should not be paid the same £13 hourly rate on offer for those who walk their deliveries.
  6. TDL has agreed that the hours couriers currently operate on will stay the same going forward. For example, if they currently work 60 hours per week they will continue to do so under the new proposal.
  7. TDL has agreed to meet with IWGB after 6 months to review how this new pay structure is working.
  8. TDL has agreed to an annual pay review in which issues such as inflation will be discussed and reflected in any adjustments. TDL confirmed that, prior to this agreement, there has never been an annual review, neither has there been an increase in pay.

This represents a huge pay rise (along with holiday pay etc) for the majority of the workforce and we would like to remind IWGB members and their supporters that their actions played a vital role in securing this victory. Solidarity works.

There will be a party to celebrate this huge win in the coming weeks. Details to follow.

Academics criticise UoL’s expensive and heavy-handed response to protests —

Academics criticise UoL’s expensive and heavy-handed response to protests

Soon after University of London management hired private security to evict student protesters from Senate House’s Chancellor’s Hall – which they were occupying in solidarity with outsourced workers – the Guardian reveals that the institution spent over £1.3 million on extra security measures between March and November last year.

IWGB University of London Branch Secretary Danny Millum comments: “We unequivocally condemn these violent acts against peaceful protesters by private security under the orders of university management. It is completely unacceptable that management would rather waste millions of pounds repressing peaceful protest than addressing the legitimate concerns of students, workers and the academic community. It is past due for the university to sit and negotiate with its outsourced workers and end this dispute that has dragged on for almost two years”.

IWGB launches strike ballot at Health Education England — June 27, 2019
Serious issues arising post-TUPE transfer for remaining Cordant security staff — June 21, 2019

Serious issues arising post-TUPE transfer for remaining Cordant security staff

See below for letter from our branch secretary re serious issues affecting Cordant security staff at the University of London:

Dear Ghaz,

I am writing as promised in yesterday’s ICE Forum to flag up a number of extremely serious issues affecting Cordant bench officers following the TUPE transfer of front of house staff.

Since the transfer, Cordant have drastically cut down on the hours of many of their bench team, and have transferred responsibility for allocating shifts to a national call centre and away from the University of London site. In addition, staff are in many cases being advised of shifts on a daily basis, rather than rotas being provided a week ahead.

This of course amounts to breach of contract, as Cordant have either given staff less than their contracted hours OR less than than the hours which they had been customarily working for months or even years.

Furthermore, it is causing enormous amounts of misery and distress – long-standing staff with many dependents have suddenly had their incomes slashed, and have the added uncertainty of not even knowing from week to week what shifts they will be working and when.

Ridiculously there are plenty of shifts to go round – but for some reason Cordant are assigning them to new temporary staff who are completely untrained on site. 

I am also attaching a contract received by one of these officers in September 2018 which (in contravention of the University’s declared policy of ending zero-hours contracts) is for just 336 hours a year – a zero hours contract in all but name. In addition I am attaching a recent message from a Cordant security manager to a guard stating that ‘we are obliged to allocate Bench officers a total of 336 hours annually’. 

This practice by Cordant was meant to have been banned by the University – were you aware that it is still continuing?

These problems have undoubtedly been triggered by splitting the security contract in two, which has meant that staff who previously covered reception duties are no longer allowed to do so. But it has been exacerbated by Cordant’s introduction of temporary staff and removal of rota responsibility from this site.

We have already raised half-a-dozen individual grievances over this matter, and will continue to raise more. However, in order to resolve the situation collective action is needed – namely that the University recognise that Cordant is unfit and unwilling to run the security contract for a moment longer, and bring these officers in-house immediately, with a guarantee that their shifts and hours be respected.

Best wishes

New officers elected at annual general meeting — June 14, 2019

New officers elected at annual general meeting

Last week (7 June), members of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) converged on Brixton, South London, for their annual general meeting(AGM). 

Their numbers were swollen by volunteers, employees, activists, supporters and friends, who have witnessed this small but feisty union rise rapidly since its inception in 2012. Over the years IWGB has fought many battles on behalf of its members and is showing how unions can thrive again.  

Among the agenda items for the 2019 AGM were the election of national officers. And the following appointments can now be confirmed:

President: Henry Chango Lopez
General secretary: Jason Moyer-Lee
Vice-president: Max Dewhurst
Treasurer: James Tiplady
Women’s officer: Catherine Morrissey
BAME officer: Muhumed Ali

The meeting was voted a huge success, and the after party too!

IWGB submits FOI request over effects of stress on HEE employees —

IWGB submits FOI request over effects of stress on HEE employees

As the University of London looks to press ahead with its plans to TUPE HEE staff to NHS employment, despite the negative impact on their terms and conditions, we have just submitted the following FOI request. Anyone with any questions drop us a line at uol@iwgb.org.uk.

1.      The total number of UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2015.

2.      The total number of days lost to mental health related illnesses amongst UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2015.

3.      The total number of UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2016.

4.      The total number of days lost to mental health related illnesses amongst UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2016.

5.      The total number of UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2017

6.      The total number of days lost to mental health related illnesses amongst UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2017.

7.      The total number of UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2018

8.      The total number of days lost to mental health related illnesses amongst UOL employees seconded to HEE in the financial year of 2018.

Summer Party 8 June / Fiesta de Verano 8 de Julio — June 7, 2019
UCL Provost’s achievements are built on the back of exploitation – letter from our branch secretary to the Guardian — June 6, 2019

UCL Provost’s achievements are built on the back of exploitation – letter from our branch secretary to the Guardian

Dear Guardian Letters Editor,

Michael Arthur may reflect ‘with pride that the university is now on a sound financial footing, with borrowing as a percentage of turnover below the Russell Group average’, but what your article does not mention is that this achievement has been built on the back of massive discrimination against UCL’s outsourced workers, the vast majority of whom are from BAME backgrounds and whose terms and conditions are far worse than those of their mostly white directly employed counterparts.

Nearly all UCL’s cleaners, caterers and security guards receive the legal minimum of holidays and sick pay, and are barred from the generous defined benefit pension schemes available to university staff. While all other adjacent institutions have either brought staff in-house or enhanced their benefits, UCL has steadfastly dragged its heels (despite posting a surplus of £156.4m last year according to its latest annual report). Had Peter Wilby spoken to one of these workers he might well have found a whole host of further reasons for the hostility to Professor Arthur he describes.

Best wishes

Danny Millum

Branch Secretary, University of London IWGB

Read the letter on the Guardian website here.

UCU congress votes overwhelming to support Senate House boycott — May 31, 2019

UCU congress votes overwhelming to support Senate House boycott

The IWGB’s boycott of Senate House, the University of London’s (UoL) central administrative headquarters in Bloomsbury, has been given a boost.

Last week (25–29 May), the University and College Union (UCU) Congress overwhelmingly passed a boycott motion. This means that it is now official UCU policy to NOT attend nor organise any events in UoL’s central administrative buildings until all its outsourced workers have been brought in-house.

The UCU’s support has empowered the mainly BAME cleaners to release a short video asking higher education staff and academics to help their case by supporting the boycott – please check it out here. They have been fighting for some two years for equality of employment.

This level of national solidarity is unprecedented. At the Congress speaker after speaker pledged their support for our workers and Jo Grady, UCU’s new general secretary, also confirmed her commitment to the campaign.

The boycott motion was brought to the UCU Congress because, while the in-house campaign has forced the university to commit to the principle of in-housing, there are still many outstanding issues:

  • only 10% of workers have been brought in-house
  • current plans are so vague that the 90% of workers who are not in-house have only been promised ‘reviews’, some of which will not take place until 2021
  • there are no guarantees that any of these 90%, which includes all the cleaners, catering staff and the majority of security staff will ever be brought in
  • these workers are still being massively discriminated against in terms of sick pay, holidays, pensions and more

In addition, as outlined below, UoL has launched a crackdown on the workers and their union, the IWGB.

University of London crackdown

The university and the outsourced companies have not only refused all offers of talks with the workers and their union – the IWGB – its management has responded by attacking trade union rights. Moreover, it has increased discrimination against the outsourced workers.

First the IWGB’s branch secretary was threatened with disciplinary action for accepting an invitation to attend a seminar to talk about the boycott.

Second, cleaning company Cordant Services introduced a draconian new sickness phone-in policy solely for the cleaners. Rather than reporting to managers or supervisors they must now call a centralised number to report all absences. Failure to do so will result in instant disciplinary action. 

There was just one catch. Many of the cleaners speak little or no English while no-one in the call centre speaks anything but. Listen here as an Ecuadorian cleaner tries to call in sick.

Third, Cordant Security has refused to allow trade union representation for migrant security staff at the university. The company has gone so far as to hire EXTRA security to physically block the IWGB representative from attending a meeting to which he was invited by the worker.

This is all happening at OUR university and is in response to pleas by the lowest-paid and most vulnerable workers in the building to be treated equally.

‘Convenors against outsourcing’ members asked to sign up for the Senate House boycott for the 2019-20 academic year —

‘Convenors against outsourcing’ members asked to sign up for the Senate House boycott for the 2019-20 academic year

Dear all,

We are writing following the UCU Congress last weekend to bring you an update on the Senate House Boycott and to ask for your (continuing) support.

Congress overwhelmingly passed the boycott motion, which means that it is now official UCU policy NOT to attend or organise any events at the central University of London administration buildings (essentially Senate House, Stewart House, Student Central, the Warburg Institute and the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (Charles Clore House)) until all outsourced workers have been brought in-house.

In addition, University of London cleaners have just released a short video asking for support for the boycott – please check it out here.

The reason the boycott motion was brought to Congress is that while the in-house campaign has forced the University to commit to the principle of in-housing:

  1. only 10% of workers have been brought in-house.
  2. current plans are so vague that all the rest are promised are ‘reviews’, some of which will not even occur until 2021.
  3. there are no guarantees that any of these 90%, including all the cleaners, catering staff and majority of security will ever be brought in.
  4. furthermore, as we outline in more detail below, the University has launched an unprecedented crackdown on the workers and their union.

We are therefore writing to you as signatories of our original letter in support of insourcing and the outsourced workers to sign up to the Senate House boycott for the 2019-20 academic year.

It is important to remember that this is a boycott of the University of London, not the IHR – events of all sorts are being moved from the University, and we are determined to maintain our relationship with the Institute to allow the seminar programme to return once everyone working in the building the IHR is housed in is treated equally. As part of this we have set up a Convenors Against Outsourcing group to provide a conduit between the IWGB union and convenors and are also able to offer help in finding rooms for any seminars which need to relocate.

University crackdown

The University and the outsourced companies have not just REFUSED all offers of talks with the workers and their union, the IWGB – they have responded by attacking trade union rights at the University of London and increasing discrimination against outsourced workers.

First they threatened the branch secretary of the IWGB with disciplinary action for attending a seminar to talk about the boycott.

Second, cleaning company Cordant Services introduced a draconian new sickness phone-in policy JUST for cleaners – rather than reporting to managers / supervisors they were now expected to call a centralised number for ALL absences or face disciplinary action.

There was just one catch – most of the cleaners speak little or no English – but no-one in the call centre speaks anything but. Listen here as an Ecuadorian cleaner tries to call in sick.

Third, Cordant Security refused trade union representation to migrant worker security staff at the University – hiring EXTRA security to physically block entry to a meeting to the IWGB representative.

This is all happening at OUR University – and all in response to the lowest-paid and most vulnerable workers in the building asking to be treated equally.

It is vital that we show that we will not tolerate this – and therefore we are asking ALL seminars to sign up to the Senate House boycott for the 2019-20 academic year. This will force the University to see sense, end its policies of repression and discrimination and return to being an institution that we can all be proud of.

We are asking that you speak to your fellow convenors, confirm that you will be supporting the boycott and if possible volunteer one person from each seminar to join our Convenors Against Outsourcing committee.

Please do let us know if you have any questions at all.

Kind regards,

Dr Dion Georgiou
Convenors Against Outsourcing Group

Background to the boycott
At the central University of London a huge in-house campaign has been raging since September 2017. Security and cleaning staff have held no fewer than 17 strikes, as well as innumerable protests, with students also occupying Senate House in support of their campaign.

The demands of the campaign are simple – for equality of terms and conditions. Currently outsourced workers have much worse holidays, pensions, sick pay, maternity and paternity pay than their directly employed colleagues. They also suffer from vastly higher levels of bullying and harassment from the outsourced companies they work for.

Eighty per cent of these workers are from BME backgrounds. Ninety per cent 90% of the cleaners are women.

The University’s response has been draconian – they have threatened TU activists, allowed their hired goon security to beat students, spent £1.3m in just 6 months on additional security and turned Senate House into a fortress.

The campaign has forced them to commit to the principle of in-housing, but this far only 10% of workers have been brought in-house, and their current plans are so vague that there are no guarantees that any of the others, including all the cleaners will ever be brought in.

To win this campaign the workers need external help, and in December 2018 they called for a boycott of events at the University of London central administration in support of the campaign.

The response has been fantastic – More than 35 Senate House seminars  and 180 events have relocated in support of the boycott and more than 440 academics have individually pledged solidarity. In addition, more than 25 UCU branches have passed a motion of support.

The boycott is working, in that the University is now looking to speed up its in-housing. We are on the verge of winning this campaign and achieving equality and dignity for these workers but without your help many of these gains could evaporate.  

Breakfast with the IWGB! —

Breakfast with the IWGB!

Another week, another breakfast stall! Students, ex-students and IWGB organisers have been greeting outsourced workers at UCL with tea, coffee and pastries one or two mornings each week since last summer. We’d like to express our gratitude to the activists who have shaken off sleep to make these stalls happen, but most of all to the cleaners who have stuck around after work to talk to us about how we can work together to improve their terms and conditions at UCL.

Workers at the breakfast stall in May.

The stalls function as a community hub where strong relationships have developed between workers who might not see each other on shift and between workers and the union. As a result, union membership and solidarity more generally has blossomed among cleaners at UCL. We have been able to solve numerous complaints and grievances brought to us by cleaners at the stalls. At the Institute of Education, for example, cleaners told us about the imminent introduction of clock-in-clock-out fingerprint technology. After a mini-campaign by the IWGB, this was delayed indefinitely.

If you’d like to get involved with the stalls, message UCL Justice for Workers. If you’re in the area, you can find the stalls at the Malet Place entrance to UCL on Thursdays (and at different locations across UCL on Fridays).

Issues relating to the current TUPE transfer – letter from our branch secretary to the University — May 28, 2019

Issues relating to the current TUPE transfer – letter from our branch secretary to the University

Dear Professor Kopelman

I hope this email finds you well.

I am writing to you in order to raise a number of issues related to the recent TUPE transfer of front of house staff from Cordant Security to the University of London. I believe the issues raised below expose the incompetence of outsourced companies but also the lack of willingness of the University of London to commit to a genuine and honest in-house process.

It needs to be clarified to begin with that 90% of the outsourced workers remain employed by external contractors. Despite the fact that the university has maintained that it is ‘committed to the principle of in-sourcing’, it still refuses to make a clear statement committing to transferring the remaining staff into its employment. Understandably, this gives no reassurance to those left out of scope of the transfer.

With regard to the TUPE transfer itself, both Cordant and the University of London have failed to provide the workers affected by the TUPE with clear information on the methodology and criteria applied to define the scope. Instead, the whole process has been characterised by misinformation, incompetence and opacity.

Serious doubts over the information provided by Cordant relating to the transfer were initially triggered by the fact that our President Henry Chango Lopez received a letter informing him of his transfer into the university. This despite the fact that his employment with Cordant had terminated more than a year ago!

Another of our members, a receptionist at IALS, was originally excluded from the process and deemed out of scope by Cordant. She was only reinstated when the IWGB raised a grievance on her behalf.

Another IALS member, who has worked as a receptionist for more than seven years, and who was informed a month ago that her employment was going to be transferred into the University was told the day she went to collect her University of London uniform  that she was considered out of scope and that she would remain outsourced. This case has now been taken to ACAS by the IWGB.

Two further Senate House night receptionists were originally given letters telling them they would be transferred to the University – only to be told casually in person a month later that they were being excluded. They too have now lodged grievances via the IWGB.

I would also like to highlight that despite the University affirming that all ‘front of house’ services would be brought in house, many officers whose EXCLUSIVE duty is to cover reception in the academic buildings remain outsourced and employed by Cordant.

This has led to the ludicrous position that reception positions (for instance in Senate House and Stewart House) which have not been filled by an outsourced member of staff TUPE-ing, and which cannot now be filled by Cordant Security (as they are no longer responsible for reception duties) are instead being advertised via CoSector, as are positions for a porter and a postroom operative.

In addition, these are being advertised as zero-hours posts with sub-London Living Wage pay – in total breach of the University’s commitments on both these issues.

Cordant Security have also failed in their statutory responsibilities in relation to the TUPE re the scheduling of appeals and hearing of grievances. More than 15 affected Cordant Security employees, who have been excluded from the TUPE, have submitted individual appeals more than a month ago and a half ago against their unfair and unjustified exclusion from the transfer. All of them are still awaiting a response from your contractor. Furthermore a number of requests sent to your institution asking for the methodology used to define the scope of the TUPE  have received no answer.

The statutory rights of our members to choose their own trade union representation have also been repeatedly breached.  Despite the fact that both Cordant and the University of London are well aware that a vast majority of outsourced workers belong to the IWGB they have still decided to nominate Unison as employee representatives instead of allowing workers to choose or elect their own.

In addition, during the 121 consultation meetings which have been taking place as part of the TUPE, we would highlight that it has been customary practice at the University of London for outsourced staff attending such meetings to bring a representative of their choice. The UoL IWGB branch secretary has attended those meetings before during previous TUPE transfers. Despite this, our trade union representatives have been informed in writing that they would not be allowed to attend our meetings and were physically prevented from doing so by an agency security officer hired by your institution specifically for that purpose. This occurred even though the letters received by our members informed them of their right to bring a colleague or trade union representative.

Several of our members who have been considered to be in scope and have been brought in house have also informed me that the University of London has provided all of them with a template contract that did not reflect the individual terms and conditions. This is consequence not only of the absence of a genuine consultation process but also to the exclusion of their trade union representatives,  who should have been there to ensure that the information provided by the contractor was correct .

Due to all this more than 40 security officers have raised a grievance in relation to the lack of definition of the scope, the violation of the right to trade union representation and the unfair exclusion of the vast majority of the workforce from the transfer.

In conclusion, it seems clear that the root cause of these issues is the decision to split the Cordant Security contract and exclude the majority of workers from the in-house process. The result of this is:

1.       Cordant have been left to make the decision on who was or was not in scope, when it was in their interest to exclude as many employees as possible. The more employees who remain with Cordant, the larger their profit on the contract.

2.       Services have been split in a way that is not operationally viable – receptionists, the bench team, relief officers and Halls reception staff all provide cover for each other and work across different sites and shifts. By only bringing in-house 13 receptionists the University now does not have enough resource to cover this service, and cannot now rely on the larger pool of staff.

3.       Staff who were previously colleagues have now been divided – with those arbitrarily left out of scope understandably extremely upset and now preparing legal challenges.

4.       Staff and their chosen representatives have not been properly consulted, with the result that the process has been far more stressful and problematic than necessary.

The resolution to all of these issues is straightforward – to act immediately to bring in house the remainder of the Cordant Security contract. We would be happy to work with you and the PFM team to ensure that this happens as smoothly as possibly, for the benefit of both staff and the University.

Best wishes


Danny Millum

Branch Secretary, University of London IWGB

Academic explains why he is proud to back the IWGB’s University of London boycott — May 24, 2019

Academic explains why he is proud to back the IWGB’s University of London boycott

Dr Dion Georgiou, a senior lecturer at the University of Chichester, calls on academics to “stand in solidarity with cleaners and security staff, and fight precarious employment.”

Writing in the Guardian, Dr Georgiou who has been organising seminars and events at Senate House for more than a decade, said outsourcing has to end and he is proud to back the University of London boycott.

In his article he also points out that universities routinely invest huge amounts in real estate while neglecting to invest in their staff. And commenting on the difficulties the outsourced workers at the University of London have been facing since their campaign began in 2017, he said “… they face an intransigent university management with skewed priorities, whose response has all too frequently blended short-termism with heavy-handedness.

“Refusing to negotiate directly with the workers’ chosen union representatives, it has instead expended heavily on policing the workers’ industrial action and student protests taken in support of them, spending over £400,000 on additional security over a two-month period last year alone.”

Remembering the IWGB members who supported academics who themselves had to take industrial action against their employers, Dr Georgiou said “Last year, while I was stood on the picket line outside King’s College London (where I myself was then precariously employed) during our strike over pensions, IWGB members supported our action, with some refusing to cross UCU picket lines. Now we must stand with them. We are all in this fight together.”

Read the full article here.

Campaigners against outsourcing take their battle to the Palace of Westminster —

Campaigners against outsourcing take their battle to the Palace of Westminster

The battle for the outsourced workers at the University of London (UoL) has entered the lofty corridors of the House of Parliament. 

This week (22 May), members of the IWGB union joined a panel led by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP to discuss how outsourcing is used to drive down working conditions and what can be done to fight back.

As well as John McDonnell, speakers included Maritza Castillo Calle, IWGB’s UoL’s branch chair, Liliana Almanza, union representative and cleaner. They were joined by Katie Leslie, London south branch secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) representing staff at Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, and representatives from the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT).

Since 2017, IWGB has been campaigning for UoL, one of the UK’s largest university in terms of student numbers, to end outsourcing and directly employ the workers who provide cleaning, catering, security and other services.

Outsourcing is one of the underhanded methods used by employers for decades to drive down our employment conditions. By using middlemen in the form of outsourcing companies such as Cordant, employers are able to offer some workers far worse pay, holiday entitlements, sick pay and pension contributions. 

But the abuse doesn’t stop there. The unaccountable nature of outsourcing companies means the workers (who are often from minority ethnic and migrant backgrounds), employed by them are much more likely to suffer from bullying and discrimination. 

But recent years have seen outsourced cleaners, security officers, receptionists and catering staff, win a number of important victories that have pushed back against some of the worst abuses of the outsourcing industry. 

At the event in Westminster, Maritza Castillo Calle and cleaners’ representative, Liliana Almanza, spoke movingly about their experiences as outsourced migrant workers, and how they had been empowered by joining a union. John McDonnell pledged his support to end outsourcing in general AND for the Boycott Senate House campaign in particular.

Workers from other outsourced campaigns also spoke, including the representatives from the PCS and RMT unions. All committed to building closer links between unions to strengthen the fightback.

Couriers working for The Doctors Laboratory strike over pay and conditions — May 17, 2019

Couriers working for The Doctors Laboratory strike over pay and conditions

On Thursday and Friday next week (23 and 24 May) medical couriers at The Doctors Laboratory (TDL) will be going on strike, and IWGB members are encouraged to show solidarity for our cycle couriers who provide blood delivery services to more than 50 NHS and private hospitals on behalf of this private company.

The focus of the action will take place at TDL’s Euston Road headquarters (95 Euston Rd, Kings Cross, London NW1 2RA) from 7.30am–1.30pm on both days. However, the main event that as many people as possible are being encouraged to attend will be from 12 noon–1.30pm on the Thursday. A range of speakers have accepted invitations to take part. 

All sorts of activities are lined up for the two days and a Facebook event “SAVE LIVES NOT PENNIES” has been launched. IWGB members are urged to show their support at this Facebook page, which will reassure and empower the workers taking part in the strike – a decision that was not taken lightly.

After years of mistreatment TDL couriers unionised in 2018 in the hope of achieving better working conditions and an increase in pay that had stagnated for years. The IWGB has been engaged in talks with TDL for the last year, but the company has done everything it can to delay negotiations and has continued to treat the couriers with contempt. 

Indeed, TDL decided to cease negotiations and instead pursue forced employment on its self-employed couriers which would mean huge pay cuts. This was the final straw. The couriers decided there was no other option than to ballot for a strike with 84.6 per cent voting to take industrial action.

A large part of TDL’s ridiculous wealth is founded on the dismantling of the NHS through privatisation. As the NHS is slowly broken down TDL hoovers up services and transform them into huge profit for the senior management and shareholders.  

TDL’s refusal to meet the workers’ demands for modest increases in pay is in sharp contrast to the generous pay rises it has given its top two executives. They earned a combined £2.6 million in 2017with the highest paid director doubling his pay since 2013 to £1.6m,far more than any NHS manager. The company’s Australian owner, Sonic Healthcare, has received £60 million from the business over the last 5 years. While this company is turning over such astronomical profits, it is looking for ways to squeeze the long-serving, hardworking couriers.

As Alex Marshall, a TDL courier and IWGB member, said: “While TDL investors and managers get fat off NHS contracts, the couriers that risk their lives every day to deliver emergency blood and pathology samples are being left to suffer under a regime of pay cuts and neglect.”

Huge victory at University of London as first workers come back in house! —

Huge victory at University of London as first workers come back in house!

Next week marks a watershed moment in IWGB’s ‘back in house’ campaign as the first outsourced workers will formally be transferred to University of London employment.

Selected members of staff from reception, portering, postroom and audio-visual support will be the first in 20 years to reverse the trend of outsourcing at UoL.

This is a huge victory for the workers’ campaign as just two years ago the University refused to discuss the issue of in-housing, claiming that issues with the workers’ employment conditions were not a matter for the University to consider.

In recent communications to directly employed staff, the University has changed its line and sought to claim credit for the decision to bring the workers in house and for the beneficial effects of doing so. But it won’t be forgotten that the decision to bring these workers back in house comes after a huge campaign and massive pressure applied to the University by the workers and their union, IWGB!

IWGB has now been able to scrutinize the terms and conditions of incoming workers’ contracts and confirm that existing working patterns will be respected while everyone will be entitled to the University’s pensions, sick pay, annual leave and other benefits such as closure days – all of which mark a significant improvement on terms and conditions available to outsourced staff.

“This is an incredible day for us,” said Abdul Bakhsh, one of the affected workers and UoL IWGB Vice Chair. “We are finally getting what we have been asking for – to be treated equally with our colleagues at the University.”

But workers are determined to carry on the campaign until all their outsourced colleagues are brought in-house: the number transferring on 20 May is a tiny proportion of affected staff. The University maintains in communications that it is ‘committed to the principle of in-sourcing’ but still refuses to make a clear statement committing to transferring the remaining 200+ staff into its employment. Understandably, this gives no reassurance to those left out of scope. The workers will fight on until the campaign is won!

Have you made your check call??? — May 16, 2019
AGM and end of year celebration for IWGB’s University of London branch — May 10, 2019

AGM and end of year celebration for IWGB’s University of London branch

The IWGB’s annual branch meeting on 27 April, was attended by a capacity crowd at SOAS in London’s Bloomsbury.

It was the once-a-year chance for members to find out everything the branch had done in the last action-packed year; approve the union’s finances, stand for election, vote for our officers, and make plans for next year.

Voting for officers at 2019 AGM

Just as important though, it was an opportunity to meet with colleagues, and to show their appreciation for the tireless volunteers and activists whose vital day-day-day role is instrumental in helping the union give its members a voice.

The AGM reflected the international make-up of the union at the most basic level. Conducted in English and Spanish (Spanish and English lessons are offered free of charge to all members), it demonstrated the power of unity and cohesion among its supporters.

Arguably the most important date in the branch calendar, the AGM was celebration of a highly democratic organisation that is doing something new, demanding national institutions do the same.

Ballots resulted in a refreshed line-up of officers and representatives. The new officers are as follows:

Delegates for central union AGM

  • David Kalanzi
  • Adbul Bakhsh
  • Joe Trapido
  • Rebecca Dooley
  • Catalina Punguil
  • Marty Steer
  • Talitha Wachtelborn
  • Jose 
  • Mark Murphy
  • Franki Cunha

Branch officials 2019

  • Chair: Maritza Castillo Calle
  • Secretary: Danny Millum
  • Vice chair: Abdul Bakhsh
  • Assistant secretary (job share): Rebecca Dooley and Mark Murphy
  • Treasurer: Lindsey Caffin
  • BME officer: David Kalanzi
  • Women’s officer: Talitha Wachtelborn 
  • Recruitment officer: Abubakar Mohamed
  • Education officer: Jamie Woodcock
  • H&S officer: Jonathan Blaney
  • Campaigns officer: Joe Maggs
  • Trustees: George Orton and David Kalanzi
Serious concerns re the ongoing TUPE process for Cordant staff — May 9, 2019

Serious concerns re the ongoing TUPE process for Cordant staff

Danny Millum, secretary of the University of London’s (UoL) branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), locked out of Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE) meeting between UoL’s contractor Cordant, and IWGB member. See below his letter to UoL’s director of property and facilities management, which raises some serious concerns about this denial of an employee’s right to be accompanied to such meetings by a ‘representative of their choice’.

Dear Ghaz

I am writing following an incident on Tuesday to raise serious concerns with regard to the ongoing TUPE process.

As you will be aware, as part of this process Cordant have been conducting 121 consultation meetings with transferring staff.

It is normal practice at the University of London for outsourced staff attending such meetings to bring a representative of their choice. I have attended dozens of such meetings in the past, as part of TUPE transfers from the University to Balfour Beatty, as part of the transfer from Cofely to Cordant etc. The union affiliation of the rep has NEVER been an issue.

Furthermore, the invite letters stated that ‘You will also have the right to be accompanied to the consultation with [sic] a fellow employee or trade union official.’

Even more egregiously, this would never be an issue for a direct employee, who would always be allowed a rep of their choice at any meeting of this sort.

Obviously, these are very important meetings, and it is very important that these workers be able to be accompanied by someone that they trust and have chosen themselves.

Despite all of the above, when members notified Cordant that I would be accompanying them, the response from Darren Cox (Operations Manager) was to inform them that I would not be allowed to attend, but that should they wish to be accompanied by a Unison rep he could help arrange this.

I wrote to Mr Cox and made the points above – to which he replied that he was acting on advice from Cordant HR.

I confirmed that nevertheless I would be attending.

On Tuesday I arrived at Stewart House basement with my member only to be confronted by a security officer who refused to allow me entrance to the corridor outside the room where the meeting was to take place. When I asked him on what authority he was denying me access, he told me it was neither Cordant nor the University of London, but that he had been given these instructions by his manager. He refused to tell me what company he worked for.

After explaining to him the situation and still being denied access myself and the member left.

I would like to put on record that I consider this behaviour to be completely unacceptable – for all the reasons above, my presence was completely legitimate. Furthermore, it is clear that the member concerned, a vulnerable migrant worker for whom English is a second language, was denied their right to a representative of their choice for a meeting of the utmost importance, an experience which they found extremely distressing.

The importance of having a rep present was confirmed when I spoke to another member who had attended the meeting alone – they were asked to sign a form giving permission for Cordant to pass their personal details to the University. When they asked what details were involved, they were told that this could not be specified, and then pressured to sign anyway, which they did despite having strong reservations.

Workers have been therefore left in a nightmarish scenario where either they take part in a meeting they are not properly equipped for OR refuse to take part and therefore leave part of the TUPE process undone.

I would like to know:

1. If the University signed off on this behaviour on the part of its contractor?
2. Who is paying the bill for the additional security officer employed solely to exclude me from these meetings?
3. That now the University is aware of this situation it will commit to ensuring that all workers get the representative of their choice at these 121 meetings?

Could you please respond to me as a matter of urgency as the date of transfer is rapidly approaching?

Best wishes


Office warming – Sat 4 May! All welcome! Todos bienvenidos! — May 2, 2019

Office warming – Sat 4 May! All welcome! Todos bienvenidos!

After lots of hard work from our amazing employees our new office is finally up and running! So please come and see it yourself and meet the IWGB office team on Saturday 4 May from 16:00 – 18:00.

There will be soft drinks and nibbles, and we will move to a close-by pub afterwards.

Address: St. Margaret’s House, Room 1, 15 Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green, E2 9PL.

2 mins from Bethnal Green underground station.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Hola a todos!! Despues de un trabajo arduo de nuestros maravillosos empleados, nuestra nueva oficina esta finalmente lista! Así que por favor vengan a verlo por ustedes mismos y conozcan a nuestro equipo de trabajo de la oficina de IWGB este sabado 4 de mayo de 4pm-6pm.

Habra bebidas y bocadillos. Despues de eso estan invitados a ir a un pub cercano.

Direccion: St. Margaret’s House, Room 1, 15 Old Ford Road, Bethnal Green, E2 9PL.

2 minutos de la estacion de metro de Bethnal Green. Los esperamos a todos!

Call for action over ethnicity and gender bias in UoL holiday allowances — April 17, 2019

Call for action over ethnicity and gender bias in UoL holiday allowances

Our branch secretary has written to the University to raise once again the issue of the discrepancy in holidays between 1-6 and 7-10 staff, and to call for immediate action! Happy Easter!

Dear Mark and Simon

I am writing with regard to the issue of the disparity in holiday allowances between staff on grades 1-6 and those on 7-10.

As you know, staff in the latter group receive 3 days more annual leave per annum than those in the former.

This is not just unfair, but I believe it raises issues of race and gender discrimination, as BAME staff and women are disproportionately represented among grades 1-6.

This was originally raised at the ICE Forum a year ago (see here for the full document submitted then)  but no action has yet been taken.

Could you please get back to me and confirm that the University will be taking steps to resolve this issue, and the timescale in which it will be doing so?

Best wishes


Your union needs you – AGM Saturday 27 April! — April 9, 2019

Your union needs you – AGM Saturday 27 April!

All University of London IWGB members are invited to our Annual General Meeting (AGM), which will be held on Saturday 27 April at 2pm. It is the most important date in the branch calendar and we urge everyone to make the effort to attend. Food and drink will be provided.

It is your once-a-year chance to:

  • find out everything the branch has done in the last action-packed year
  • approve the union’s finances
  • meet colleagues from across the branch
  • stand for election and vote for our officers (see full list of current officers and posts)
  • thank our volunteers and activists
  • make plans for the next year

Venue: SOAS Main Building, Room B103, 10 Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG .

The nearest tube station is Russell Square, and the 59, 168, 68, 91 and 188 buses stop nearby.

More information about the AGM and how to stand as an officer, is available from jordilopez-botey@iwgb.co.uk.

A reasonable approach – IWGB offers negotiations on in-housing — April 3, 2019

A reasonable approach – IWGB offers negotiations on in-housing

Our branch secretary Danny wrote today to the VC and the heads of SAS:

Dear Peter

I am writing to you and to the SAS Directors with regard to the ongoing in-house campaign and boycott of Senate House

SAS have indicated to us and to the campaign on numerous occasions the extremely serious impact the boycott is having on the School, particularly if it continues into the long term.

The University meanwhile has reiterated that the wellbeing of the School is a top priority.

It would therefore make sense that if there were a course of action that could lead to the boycott being lifted the University should take it.

We want to make clear that this course of action is available – we are offering direct negotiations with the outsourced workers and their chosen union which could start immediately. Only through negotiation will we find a solution that will convince workers to call off the boycott. Once an agreement is reached, the boycott will be lifted.

If the University wishes to find a way to resolve this issue and has the interests of the School at heart, all it needs to do is accept this offer, which would cost it nothing.

We are looking forward to your response, and moving forward with a solution that will benefit everyone at the University in the long term.

Best wishes