University of Greenwich Security Officers demand action on Health & Safety — October 19, 2020

University of Greenwich Security Officers demand action on Health & Safety

The IWGB union Universities of London branch secretary, Charlotte Powell, has written today to Professor Jane Harrington, Vice Chancellor of the University of Greenwich on behalf of security officers to demand urgent action in the face of rising Covid cases on campus.

Read the letter here:

Dear Jane,

I am writing to you from the IWGB union on behalf of the outsourced security officers at University of Greenwich, following on from my letter on 13 October raising concerns regarding the health and safety of these workers and of other staff and students at the university, to demand immediate action is taken to ensure safety.

Over the past few weeks new cases of coronavirus among students and staff of the University of Greenwich have consistently been reported on the University’s own portal, and it is likely there are more cases on campus that have not been reported.  In your reply to my previous letter, you wrote that the health, safety and welfare of students and all workers is of the utmost importance to you. However, the University of Greenwich response to Covid-19 on campus so far is inadequate. Increased health and safety measures are required.

It is the university’s responsibility to ensure the safety of all staff (including its outsourced workers) and students on campus. We therefore urge you to take the following immediate actions:

  1. The university must halt face to face teaching on campus to the greatest extent possible in order to reduce the number of students on campus and thereby reduce the risks of coronavirus transmission.
  2. The university must ensure outsourced staff, on the frontline of keeping the university safe and secure through the last year, are properly supported. In particular, the University must make clear to your subcontractor Sodexo that the bonus pay provided to porters at University of Greenwich as compensation for the extra risk they are exposed to working through Covid must be extended to all outsourced workers. The roles and responsibilities of all Sodexo staff on campus have expanded in both scope and intensity during the pandemic, so this compensation should be provided across the board.
  3. The university must ensure that its outsourced security officers are properly able to do their job of keeping staff and students safe without intimidation. Sodexo must withdraw all action against security officer Kingsley Osadolor, who is under investigation after a student complained about him for insisting the student wore a mask. The lack of appropriate guidance for security officers, on the front line of enforcing health and safety procedures, and the investigation against Kingsley have left security officers feeling intimidated and unable to effectively exercise health and safety measures, to the detriment of everyone on campus.
  4. The university must invite a representative of security staff from IWGB to participate as a health and safety representative for security staff in any meetings, committees or consultations open to other workers (directly employed and outsourced) regarding regulations and safeguards on campus.

The university has ultimate responsibility over its contracts with Sodexo and all outsourced staff who work at the university. It is all the more critical for the university to live up to these responsibilities at this time when all staff, both direct employees and outsourced workers, are affected by the health and safety measures being put in place. We appreciate that the University of Greenwich is celebrating the facility workers as heroes, yet actions need to follow these words.

Please confirm what you plan to do to remedy this situation by close of business on Friday 23 October latest. If the university does not follow the entirely reasonable actions to ensure everyone’s health and safety outlined above, the security guards will have no choice but to consider taking actions to ensure that their voices are heard, their health and safety is protected and they are treated with dignity and respect they deserve.

Best regards,
Charlotte Powell

AXIS & UCL give with one hand, take away with the other — July 20, 2020

AXIS & UCL give with one hand, take away with the other

“Over the next year UCL are bringing all your benefits in line with UCL staff, if you don’t think that comes with a cost then you are sadly mistaken. That’s why we need to get this rationalisation of shifts done.” – John Fitzpatrick, Operations Director (and shareholder) for University College London’s security subcontractor AXIS, at a consultation meeting with security officers on Tuesday 14 July.

On 10 June, UCL’s security subcontractor AXIS announced a consultation process to “rationalise shifts” of security officers at UCL, ending 28 July.

In the ongoing consultations, some security officers have been told they may face cuts of up to 18 hours of work per week, which would result in a 30% drop in their wages.

The IWGB is still seeking clarification regarding the rationale for the proposed changes and whether AXIS plans to impose the changes or if this will be voluntary.

The rationale for these cuts has not been properly explained by AXIS, but this move comes only a few months after AXIS hired nearly 100 more security officers on the site, aiming to try to weaken the power of the union after several powerful strikes in the autumn, which resulted in a massive improvement in terms and conditions for outsourced workers at UCL.

Some AXIS managers have stated in the ongoing consultations that there are now too many security officers on site due to the recent surge in recruitment of officers and the costs are too high for UCL. Around 280 security officers work at UCL currently.

On the other hand, AXIS Operations Director John Fitzpatrick claims that the proposed cuts to hours are needed as a direct result of UCL’s decision (following our campaign) to improve people’s terms and conditions, which has increased costs for UCL.

It is not yet clear how many security officers will lose hours or be otherwise impacted by the proposed changes. And it is not clear whether the rationalisation plan is being driven by AXIS or by UCL.

If Fitzpatrick is telling the truth and UCL is driving the changes, then they have given with one hand, and are now trying to take away with the other. Security officers were given a 9% pay rise, but some are now facing a 30% drop in their wages.

This is truly shocking and calls into question UCL’s pledge to give UCL’s outsourced staff parity of terms and conditions with directly employed staff.

UCL’s security are fighting back, calling for ‘No cuts and no sham consultations’.

You can support them by sharing the campaign tweets and helping draw attention to this issue: