On 21 OCTOBER UCL announced its commitment to give outsourced workers the same Annual Leave entitlements as direct employees, starting in December this year. This is good news and a good first step. From December outsourced workers should now receive 27 days + 6 Closure days + public holidays. This is the result of the pressure of the IWGB campaign. UCL have also said they are committed to levelling up all pay and benefits for outsourced workers to an equal level with direct employees by August 2021. Finally, there is no mention of ending outsourcing and bringing all outsourced workers in-house. In-housing would be a significant improvement on parity of terms and conditions
UCL has claimed that this announcement has come as a result of constructive negotiations with the outsourced staff. However, this concession has only happened in the context of an ongoing ballot where 300 outsourced workers, members of the IWGB, are currently voting in favour of strike action.
We would therefore like to provide some insights regarding UCL’s recent announcement:
- It comes 2 weeks after 300 outsourced workers, members of the IWGB, decided to launch a campaign to end outsourcing at UCL. The day after the launch of their campaign on 8 October the workers sent a formal notice of Strike Ballot to UCL and the subcontractors Axis and Sodexo and initiated an intense social media and public campaign that involved public speeches, flyering, videos and a petition. It is the powerful campaign by the outsourced security officers, cleaners and porters at UCL in the IWGB union that has ended UCL’s years of silence on this issue. UCL can no longer neglect and ignore the workers that make it possible for UCL to open its doors every day.
- These concessions are nothing but a sign that UCL is cracking under pressure, mainly as a consequence of potentially facing the biggest strike of outsourced higher education workers in the history of the UK.
- Despite this, UCL has not once opened up discussions with the workers themselves and they have so far refused to negotiate with the IWGB union, which represents the vast majority of the security staff and hundreds of cleaners and porters at UCL. In failing to do so, UCL are excluding the outsourced workers and treating them with extreme disrespect. Which is no surprise considering that UCL has treated them like second class workers for all these years. UCL’s pretend claims that they have consulted and negotiated with the outsourced workforce have no basis in fact.
UCL cannot continue to ignore the outsourced workers. They will learn the perils of doing so when the majority of the workforce goes on strike after not being listened to and their time for negotiations runs out.
- The announcement gives no serious guarantees and no clear timetable for delivery. Years ago when UCL announced that they would introduce the living wage for UCL staff within a year, they ended up dilly dallying for 5 years before it was delivered. Empty PR statements are no substitute for concrete action or for firm commitments with clear deadlines. UCL has said they will act within 22 months by August 2021. UCL is one of the richest universities in the country and has the resources to deliver parity of terms and conditions within several months should they choose to. The outsourced workers are clear that 2 years is not good enough. It is patently an attempt to kick this issue into the long grass.
- What is more, the announcement does not mention the end of outsourcing, which has been the central demand raised by the outsourced workers. Ending outsourcing is significantly different to just parity of terms and conditions. We require the removal of the incompetent and exploitative subcontractors under which UCL has allowed the outsourced workforce to suffer for over a decade. The IWGB has a clear position: Outsourced workers demand full equality which can only be delivered by ENDING OUTSOURCING.
Taking into consideration the above, we would like to express our determination to continue to fight until FULL EQUALITY is given to all outsourced workers at UCL and the outsourced workers are brought back in-house.
We once again extend an invitation to UCL and encourage its management to find another way forward: Commit to end outsourcing and to sit down and negotiate with the outsourced workers and their representatives.
Until then, the struggle continues!
See you on the picket line UCL