Dear Mr Lee
Re: outsourcing of cleaners at the London School of Hygiene and Medicine (LSHTM)
We are writing to condemn in the strongest possible terms your decision to outsource the cleaning staff at the LSHTM to the private company Regent Samsic, which, we understand, will come into effect from 1 August 2017.
Our two unions, the IWGB and United Voices of the World (UVW), represent hundreds of cleaners, porters security guards and other outsourced staff across the University of London including at the LSHTM.
Our opposition to this decision is informed by the experiences of our members who suffer and endure the inequality and exploitation that outsourcing inevitably introduces and enables.
We have fought effective campaigns to demand and achieve equal pay and terms conditions for outsourced staff including at Senate House and, most recently, at the London School of Economics (LSE) where management have agreed to bring all the cleaners in-house from spring 2018.
The decision to outsource the cleaning staff at the LSHTM is a profoundly regressive step. No doubt the intention of this move is to save money. This is hugely misguided: quite apart from the fact that it is completely immoral to seek to save money off the backs of the School’s lowest paid workers, this decision flies in the face of all the evidence which shows that outsourcing does not lead to overall cost savings and leads to a reduction in the quality of services. A QMUL report produced after they brought their cleaners back in-house stated: ‘As might be expected, a good number of the staff working at QMUL (about a third) reported noticing improvements in the cleaning service since the move back in-house, but many more (almost three quarters) reported that they supported the decision itself. Many reported feeling that the decision to pay a living wage and bring the service in-house was the right thing to do, enhancing the reputation of the College as a good employer (Wills et al. 2009:21-22). If savings and economies of scale are being sought, then not having to pay VAT (20%) plus outsourcing company profits (typically 10-15%) should far outweigh any additional pension or payroll costs.
In light of this, we now call on you to do the sensible and moral thing and immediately cancel this contract, and ensure that all the cleaners retain their direct employee status.
We will be offering our full support to the workers affected by this, and will remain vigilant to ensure that the rights guaranteed under TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings- Protection of Employment) are applied correctly to all transferred workers. We will also be supporting the campaign against this immoral and unjust act and will continue to do everything in our power to highlight its consequences.
Make no mistake: this reckless act means that the School is now profoundly at odds with the climate of opinion across the University of London, where trade unions and student and staff-led campaigns are forcing management to row back on outsourcing and the inequality it breeds. We urge you to reconsider before you move forward with this misguided and unprincipled decision.
Jason Moyer Lee (General Secretary, IWGB)
Henry Chango Lopez (President, IWGB)
Danny Millum (Branch Secretary, University of London IWGB)
Petros Elia (General Secretary, UVW)
Percy Yunganina (President, UVW)