Outsourced workers at the University of London (UoL) interrupted a graduation dinner hosted by vice-chancellor Sir Adrian Smith, calling on him to bring them in-house and put an end to zero-hour contracts.
The noisy protest on 6 March came as Sir Adrian waited to welcome his guests at the Brewery near London’s Barbican Centre. Workers and their supporters started their march from Barbican station and at the venue, watched by the police and security staff, made their voices heard while handing out flyers to those attending the dinner.
Currently employed by the university’s contractors these outsourced workers including cleaners, security officers, receptionists and other contracted employees – the people who are essential to the smooth running of the university – have been campaigning since last year to be employed directly by UoL. They are also asking for the implementation of promised pay rises.
Under zero-hours contracts workers receive fewer benefits, such as holiday and sick pay, than directly employed university staff. Moreover, their stories tell of discrimination, bullying and unfair deduction of wages.
The university management has stubbornly refused to take part in discussions with the workers and their trade union, the IWGB, who is this week balloting for further strike action after months of campaigning.