On Monday 13 March, all 13 members of Bar Staff at Student central were informed that the bar was closing on that day for an indefinite period of time. Despite multiple questions and requests regarding their salary, Aramark failed to provide any answer with regards to this matter. The only response offered was that the staff members should seek to apply for Universal Credit, a wholly inappropriate response given the urgency of the matter and well-known wait time Universal Credit applications involve.
IWGB wrote to Wendy Thomson on Thursday stressing the importance of having this issue resolved as a matter of urgency, as some of the workers laid-off have been without pay for more than a week now. However, UoL has refused to provide any response with regards to this matter.
As mentioned in our previous email, we have now launched a public campaign and the situation of these workers has already gained public attention through the media:
The most concerning aspect of this case is that whilst University of London has repeated many times that zero-hour contracts are not used in the employment of outsourced staff, all the workers that have been laid off were employed on such contracts.
This is a blatant example of the lack of protection of outsourced workers. Workers who the university continues to outsource despite the multiple campaigns against these types of contracts.
One of the bar staff members affected by the lay-off has provided the following statement:
“UoL’s lack of action during this global crisis has highlighted an appalling disregard for the wellbeing of its staff. With zero communication from management following being laid off via a Facebook message– with no mention of pay– we have rallied as a team to fight for our rightful wages. However, there has been little to no acknowledgment of our demands, not even any words to assuage our concerns. Many of us rely on this income, and work full-time equivalent hours. Our livelihoods have been jeopardised, and our employers refuse to even speak with us. It’s outrageous that we are having to fight this hard even for a response, and reveals UoL to be an uncaring and immoral corporation. As zero hour workers, our positions have always been precarious, and no one should ever be in this position- to UoL, the truth is that we are expendable workers whose welfare is at the bottom of the list”
The IWGB shall not stand idly whilst our members are left jobless, with no income and facing financial destitution. The University of London must take immediate action and ensure that the following demands are met:
a. All 13 employees will receive full payment of their wages, this based on an average of the hours work over the past 12 weeks (not considering Christmas closure)
b. Aramark will provide all of them with written statement of particulars. The terms and conditions reflected (hours of work) will be subject to consultation with all individuals involved.
We encourage all supporters to make good use of their isolation time and write to Ghazwa.Alwani-Starr@london.ac.uk & VC Ghazwa.Alwani-Starr@london.ac.uk with the following:
WE DEMAND JUSTICE FOR STUDENT CENTRAL BAR STAFF
Bar staff at the Student Central Bar on Malet Street have been laid off with no pay as the University of London has closed the bar due to the Covid-19 public health emergency. Employed on zero hours contracts by Aramark Europe, despite the University of London’s ban on such contracts, these outsourced staff must now be given full recognition and full pay during the closure of their workplace.
I believe that it is responsibility of Aramark and University of London management to ensure that staff continue to be paid during this period of closure, and demand the full rights of contracted workers regarding their pay.
I therefore request that the University of London and Aramark take immediate action:
a. Aramark must issue all employees with contracts of employment, bringing the Student Central bar into compliance with the University of London ban on zero hours contracts.
b. All Employees are to be paid during this closure an average of their monthly earnings for the past 3 months, or since they started employment, whichever is the earlier date. This average is not to include the weeks that the bar was closed over Christmas.