IWGB’s Danny Millum has written to UCL to discuss the planned cuts affecting cleaners at UCLU:

Dear Mr Dancy

I am writing on behalf of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) with regard to the planned cuts affecting cleaners at UCLU.

The IWGB completely supports the cleaners’ campaign against these cuts, which are both unjustified in themselves and have been implemented in a fashion contrary to UCLU’s constitution.

Despite previous commitments by UCLU in which it has stated its support for workers’ rights (specifically campaigning for better conditions and pay for cleaners) it appears that:

  • the main justification for these cuts are unsubstantiated lower quotes from competing cleaning companies
  • when it was discovered that management was planning these cuts the student council of representatives voted that they should not go ahead – but last week overruled by the board of trustees, a body containing unelected members
  • at no point has UCLU management cited talks with workers’ union representatives. Instead reference has been made to talks with the company and it seems likely no direct contact between UCLU and CAIWU (the workers’ union) has taken place
  • there has been no solid evidence presented to say that UCLU is overcharged by Secura Clean
  • no-one seems to have spoken to the workers – who can say for sure if the work they are doing could indeed be squeezed – even the management doesn’t seem to know for sure how these hours can be reduced, beyond anecdotal evidence
  • management is thus bringing UCLU into disrepute by breaking UCLU’s fundamental principles of democracy and ethical conduct (see UCLU’s Articles of Association which reads that “The Union is a democratic institution” and that it will “fulfil its objects in a socially and environmentally responsible manner”)
  • management in addition has failed to listen to its members (hundreds of whom have signed a petition calling on the cuts to stop)
  • furthermore it now appears that UCLU may be breaching its commitments as a London Living Wage employer

The IWGB would like to make it clear that it will be supporting wholeheartedly the cleaners’ campaign to correct these injustices. This may well manifest itself it strikes and demonstrations such as those seen as part of the 3 Cosas Campaign at Senate House – the video here should give you some indication of what is involved.

UCLU helped support and fund the IWGB when we found ourselves homeless shortly after this campaign – it is a sad irony indeed that it should now be on the side of those exploiting the most vulnerable in our society.

UCLU faces a straightforward choice – treat its workers with the dignity and respect that it pays lip service to, or see massive reputational damage and a prolonged and disruptive campaign which can only discredit the organisation itself.

Let’s hope they choose the former – if not, la lucha continua!

Best wishes

Danny

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