Yesterday IWGB Treasurer Danny Millum wrote to Kim Frost, raising issues around cleaners’ contracts and the University’s negotiations with Cordant. The text of the email is below, with an example zero-hours contract letter. We look forward to his swift response…


9 February 2017

Dear Kim

I am writing on behalf of cleaning staff working for the contractor Cordant to bring to the University of London’s attention serious failings with the way certain aspects of the contract are being handled.

Shortly after Cordant took over, a number of permanent cleaning positions were advertised internally, and various cleaners applied for these, and were interviewed.

These posts were of great importance – many of those applying work just three hours a day, and these extra hours would have allowed them to earn closer to a full-time salary while remaining in the same workplace.

However, following the interviews:

  • no appointments were made
  • no outcome was provided to any of the applicants
  • despite numerous enquiries, no explanation was provided as to why the appointment process had been suspended
  • following union intervention, Cordant stated in September that the process had been halted while a revaluation of the contract was done, but that this would be resolved shortly
  • instead these posts continued to be filled by temporary summer staff, who had never applied for the positions or been interviewed, but whose contracts were extended beyond the normal September cutoff point
  • following numerous other requests for information, the employees eventually filed a collective grievance on the 13 December, which was not heard until the 16 January, and for which an outcome was only provided today, on the 9 February
  • the outcome gave no detail, but merely stated that negotations were ongoing bewteen the University of London and Cordant, and that no timescale could be given
  • in the meantime, despite assurances to the contrary, temporary staff are now being issued with zero-hour contracts (see attached) while they continue to fill these posts.

We have been given no option but to bring this matter to the University’s attention, and ask:

  1. Is the University aware that its contractor has left staff who attended interviews in good faith for nearly a year with no outcome?
  2. Is the University aware that its contractor (until forced to do so by a formal grievance) failed to respond to staff requests for information for months on end?
  3. Is the University aware that its contractor is now employing staff on zero-hour contracts?
  4. Is the University aware that its contractor is claiming that negotiations over the contract have taken over ten months – and are still not resolved?
  5. Is the University aware that the consequence of this has meant that a significant number of permanent cleaning positions have been left unfilled for over ten months – with the work being done instead by temporary staff who were not required to interview?
  6. It cannot be the case that resolving the hours required on this contract should take so long – either Cordant or the University are responsible for this. Which is it?

The affected cleaners feel extremely disrespected and poorly treated – they simply wish for these posts to be awarded fairly to those who originally interviewed for them.

They are in the process of appealing the decision, and considering legal action. In the meantime, we would ask the University to clarify the contract, and compel its contractor to fulfil its obligations to staff. In addition, if it turns out that the University is condoning the use of zero-hour contracts by Cordant, we will be calling attention to this by all means possible.

If you could respond to this as soon as possible that would be much appreciated.

Best wishes,

Danny Millum