26 February – Joint Employer case against the University of London comes to court! — January 30, 2019

26 February – Joint Employer case against the University of London comes to court!

On 26 Feb our Joint Employer case against the University of London comes to court! If we win it will not just be the outsourced workers at the University that benefit, but the 3.3m outsourced workers across the U.K. currently denied the opportunity to bargain directly with the employer that really determines their terms and conditions. So it’s a biggie!

To mark the day we are teaming up with a bunch of other unions to march against outsourcing – please make sure to join us!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1032313910310117/

 

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Relief for HEE staff as IWGB pressure helps postpone TUPE — January 23, 2019

Relief for HEE staff as IWGB pressure helps postpone TUPE

The University of London have confirmed to the ICE Forum that plans to TUPE all employees currently working for Health Education England under UoL contracts have been postponed.

IWGB reps on the Forum had been vociferous in their opposition to the plans, opposed by the majority of staff, and had tabled over 30 in-depth and largely unanswered legal and financial questions relating to the process.

The IWGB wanted the whole process scrapped, whereas the University’s position now is that it has been paused and will be returned to at an as-yet-unspecified date.

We will of course keep you posted as to developments – any questions do drop us a line at uol@iwgb.org.uk!

Breaking news! IWGB submits formal request for recognition on behalf of UCL security officers — January 2, 2019

Breaking news! IWGB submits formal request for recognition on behalf of UCL security officers

Happy New Year! Starting 2019 as we mean to go on, the IWGB has just banged in a recognition request to Axis, the outsourced security company at UCL. Axis currently don’t recognise any unions, but with rapid growth in membership among security officers at UCL the IWGB has now been able to submit a formal request for voluntary recognition.

Axis have 10 days to respond – they can either agree to the request or refuse it. Should they take the latter option then the IWGB would then be able to apply for statutory recognition.

Either way, we are confident that this will be our branch’s first ever recognition agreement, which will further strengthen our capacity to support our members as they fight for better terms and conditions at UCL.

For those interested in the process more details are here (https://www.gov.uk/trade-union-recognition-employers), and the letter itself follows:

Dear John
This email constitutes a formal request by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain for voluntary trade union recognition under Schedule A1 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.
The request is to cover the bargaining unit which consists of all Axis Security Services Limited employees employed on the University College London security management contract.
We look forward to your response.
Best wishes
Danny
Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB
IWGB announces Brexit position — November 27, 2018

IWGB announces Brexit position

Following our discussion at the September branch meeting on Brexit, the motion was passed by the IWGB Executive Committee – see below for a letter from our general secretary:

Dear Members,
 
I’m writing to inform you of our position on Brexit, which we will be announcing publicly.  Before the referendum the IWGB had a policy to support Remain, mainly due to concern over our large contingent of membership working in the UK on EU passports and due to concerns over the impact of Brexit on EU-derived employment law.  There are four key areas where Brexit, in particular a hard Brexit, is likely to have detrimental impacts on the IWGB and our members:
 
1. Immigration. Nearly all of the Cleaners and Facilities Branch members are here on EU passports.  A huge proportion of the University of London Branch members are as well.  Some members in all of the other branches, including Couriers and UPHD, will be too.  And 50% of our staff are here on EU passports.  Restrictions on free movement could make it harder for them to bring family members over, or depending on the type of Brexit, hard for them even to stay in this country.  Further, the environment and discourse around immigration has become increasingly toxic, with Brexit greatly contributing to this toxicity.
 
2. Employment law. A large number of employment rights are derived from EU law.  The importance of EU law is that: (i) in some cases it introduces rights which didn’t previously exist in the UK (e.g. paid holidays), (ii) the law is ultimately interpreted by an EU court which on the whole is more progressive and pro-worker than UK courts, and (iii) EU law in effect supersedes domestic law, so the Tories are unable to shred employment rights that come from the EU, even with a supermajority.  The IWGB relies on EU law rights to defend members on a daily basis, e.g. paid holidays, protection from discrimination, TUPE, etc.  EU law also forms a central plank to various branches’ legal strategies, e.g. the ICE regulations which are used in UoL branch.  Further, the foster care branches’ current legal strategy is largely dependent on EU law superseding UK law.
 
3. Economy.  There is a virtual consensus among economists that a hard Brexit will result in an economic shock and a big decrease in government revenues.  We know from past experience that those who bear the biggest brunt of any economic shock and cuts in government spending are low-paid workers, e.g. our members, who have already had to struggle against the austerity agenda.  This will inevitably be the same with any negative economic impact from Brexit.  
 
4. Inability of Government to get anything done.  Brexit is all consuming and Parliament is hard pressed to focus on anything that isn’t Brexit-related.  This is particularly the case when Parliament and the current government are focusing on creating a new arrangement rather than choosing an off-the-shelf option such as remaining in the single market and adopting EU law into UK law, which would require much less change.  The IWGB needs Parliament to be able to engage with non-Brexit issues, e.g. a central plank of the foster care strategy is to get Parliament to pass legislation regulating the industry.  Similarly, we are calling on legislation on behalf of UPHD branch to give more powers to licensing bodies in particular to cap private hire driver license numbers.
 
The trade union movement is becoming increasingly vocal on these issues.  The TUC has called for a soft Brexit and a referendum on the final deal if it looks like the deal won’t be in the interests of workers, GMB has called for a referendum on the final deal, UNITE has left open the option of another referendum, etc.  Although the IWGB is not a big player, we are of the size and profile to have an influence on certain sections of the public.  Therefore, our taking a position could contribute, in albeit a small way, to a concrete result which (as outlined above) would directly benefit our members.  
 
For these reasons the IWGB Executive Committee voted overwhelmingly to adopt the following position:
 

1.       The people should be given a vote on the final Brexit deal.

2.       Failing the above, Brexit should take the softest possible form, in particular by remaining in the single market with the institution’s protections for free movement and by incorporation of EU-derived employment law.

To help make our case we have made this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKf_b0QeWwE&feature=youtu.be, which we will be pushing on social media tomorrow.  I have also written an article for the Guardian on the employment law aspects of the proposed deal.
 
Kind regards,
Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
IWGB

http://iwgb.org.uk/
T: 02034907530; 02035383720
M: 07771783094

Protest: University of London Foundation Day (Tuesday 20 November) — November 14, 2018

Protest: University of London Foundation Day (Tuesday 20 November)

protestTuesday 20 November is the University of London’s Foundation Day, when honorary degrees approved by the Collegiate Council are presented by University Chancellor Princess Anne.

As has become an annual tradition, IWGB outsourced workers will be demonstrating outside Senate House to demand the University of London end discrimination, take direct responsibility for the employment and working conditions of outsourced workers and bring them in-house now!

Pleaase could all members and supporters try and make it down for 5.30pm next Tuesday and support our outsourced colleagues!

https://www.facebook.com/events/749668095389529/

 

Massive YES vote in latest University of London outsourced worker ballot — October 16, 2018

Massive YES vote in latest University of London outsourced worker ballot

Strike! Outsourced workers at the University of London have, yet again, voted in favour of strike action, with a 100% YES vote among cleaners. We will see you at the picket line on the 30 October.

cleanersvote

Despite the University’s cynical attempts to divide the workforce, porters, security, receptionists, post room workers, audiovisual staff and gardeners have also voted in favour of strike action. For some of them this is their fourth ballot in two years.

This is a level of unprecedented unity among outsourced workers fighting together the UoL’s recent disgraceful announcement  – https://twitter.com/3CosasCampaign/status/1046808688672034822

Their demands are simple – more than a year after the in-house campaign and the FM Services Review was announced, they want to end the current discriminatory 2-tier employment system at the University and be treated as equals.

Full details of the huge strike on 30 October, part of the ‘Rise of the Precarious Workers’ National IWGB demo, can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/2337254349835594/.

IMMEDIATE ACTION required over abusive homophobic and sexist Cordant manager – letter from IWGB to University of London — October 7, 2018

IMMEDIATE ACTION required over abusive homophobic and sexist Cordant manager – letter from IWGB to University of London

Email sent Wednesday 3 October to University of London Vice-Chancellor Peter Kopelman

Dear Professor Kopelman,

I am writing in a mixture of anger and astonishment to bring to your attention a second successive case of blatantly discriminatory behaviour on behalf of a senior Cordant Security manager and the failure of the University to deal with this.

You will be aware that in July the IWGB brought to your attention the case a Cordant manager posting openly racist and far-right material on Facebook (https://iwgb-universityoflondon.org/2018/07/10/university-of-londons-outsourcing-manager-under-fire-for-racist-facebook-posts/).

Following our revelations, they were removed from the University of London contract. However, rather than thank the IWGB for their actions, Our branch secretary was rebuked by the head of FM Services, Ghaz Alwani-Starr, for having openly revealed these details, and told that firstly this would better have been dealt with by having been brought to the University’s attention discretely, and secondly that this was not a failure of governance or the contractor, but simply one bad apple.

On both counts this has now shown to be untrue.

A current Cordant security manager was the subject of a grievance by his own staff in July. This covered numerous aspects of his behaviour, but perhaps most notably his racism, sexism and blatant homophobia.

In the grievance notes, one of the receptionists recounts how ‘he always has a comment about women who walk past, not to them, but about them to us, like “she’s so attractive, the things I would do to her”. There was one lady who worked in Birkbeck Employability called XXXX who he was always commenting about. She told me she felt very uncomfortable around him as he was just a perv’.

The same witness goes on to state: ‘a new potential receptionist was training called Fabio. And after he’d finished [the manager] said that he didn’t want that “Batty man” working here’.

Allegations of this seriousness ON THEIR OWN should have warranted at the very least suspension while a full investigation took place.

However, they were not isolated allegations. At the same time a complaint had been submitted independently by the Birkbeck employee in question. In it, she states how she had been continually harassed by the manager. Some of the most shocking passages are as follows:

Whilst asking XXXX about the classes and services the swimming pool have on offer, he briefly mentioned that on Saturdays you get the “Batty Boys”. I didn’t quite understand what he meant by that so I asked him to elaborate further, he then went on to explain that naked gay men are here all day flaunting their bits. I found this comment completely shocking … Furthermore, I went on to say that if he was homosexual would he appreciate comments as such being made? In response to this he replied “Bitch – Do I look gay to you” – there was no need for him to insult me in this way by calling me a “bitch” at which point I was very upset and completely appalled by his attitude.

He also made remarks and inappropriate comments about the clothing that I wear like my “backside is banging in that – I would deal with that all day long!’.

This complaint was emailed to Ghaz Alwani-Starr of the University of London on 12 July 2018. The only response that the complainant received was that this would be passed onto Cordant. However, Cordant made no effort to contact her, and she received no further response whatsoever regarding this until she prompted the University herself two months later. Their reply could not have been more dismissive:

Thank you for your email and apologies you have not received a reply to your initial email. Cordant have investigated and I understand that they spoke to you as part of the investigation. They have included the investigation and the matter will remain on file’.

The fact was that Cordant had not spoken to her. Nor had they made any effort to investigate, or they might have spoken to a witness to the incident above, who stated to us:

I believe there has been a few sexual comments in regards to homosexuality which may have offended a number of people at student central. I have only witnessed or heard of one comment made about this as I was within the vicinity at the time where a staff member looked shocked by this comment made. I am not sure about the relation they both have however making a comment of such nature as well as calling a staff member a bitch did not go down very well in my opinion’.

The grievance taken out by the receptionists took two months to report (only doing so after half a dozen prompts from the receptionists and our branch secretary), and astoundingly the outcome makes NO MENTION of his sexism and homophobia – instead merely stating that ‘there appears to be a breakdown in the relationship’ and offering mediation.

It is clear from the fact that no other witness statements were included in the grievance outcome that the whole process was a farce. Had Cordant been interested in getting to the truth of the matter they might, for example, have interviewed a trainee lifeguard, who stated to us:

The individual by the name of XXXX was the person that showed me around but I found him to be quite stand off and I felt that his attitude towards me could of been because of my sexuality. When XXXX contacted me and made me aware he had made that comment “I didn’t want to hire that batty boy anyway” confirmed my assumptions were correct. I feel disgusted that a person could say such words about myself and I am also questioning the university as a whole. How can you allow an individual that has a personal issue against gays and homosexuals to work in a diverse establishment.

This individual is clearly unfit to work at the University of London, an institution that confirmed only last week that its contractor are bound by its much-heralded ‘Diversity and Inclusion Strategy’, which states:

The University shall not discriminate against any person on the grounds of race, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, disability, age, religion, social background or political belief.

Of course, there are also serious legal issues which you need to consider, such as the University’s Public Sector Equality Duty pursuant to the Equality Act 2010.

Furthermore, it can no longer be passed off as a coincidence that the University’s outsourced companies are employing and protecting managers exhibiting discriminatory behaviour of this sort – it is clear that outsourcing produces a failure of oversight and accountability which threatens the very diversity and inclusivity the University claims to hold so dear.

Indeed, it makes a mockery of the claims made by Dr Alwani-Starr in her latest FM Services Review email this week, in which she states:

In recognition that there have been issues raised with me in relation to how our contractors are applying their policies locally, I am encouraged that Cordant have over the summer repeated key training for managers and supervisors to ensure proper adherence to their own policies. We are also taking action ourselves and putting in place a rigorous monitoring system to ensure that all terms of the contracts are being adhered to’.

This rigid monitoring system clearly does not extend to excluding or disciplining managers who refer to staff and colleagues as ‘batty boys’ and ‘bitches’.

When our general secretary raised the issue of the previous Cordant manager he ended as follows:

Now your usual tactic is to place the blame for all things outsourcing on the contractors themselves. Not this time. You and only you chose Cordant for your contracts. No one else made that decision except the University of London. This is your responsibility. I want to know what you’re going to do about it, and I want to know now.

This situation is even more serious, given the University’s role in covering it up and the fact that the staff who were brave enough to raise this issue are still at risk, as are all potential visitors and occupants of Student Central.

Can you confirm you will be taking immediate action?

Please feel free to get in touch if you need any further information.

Best wishes

Emiliano Mellino
Organiser/Press officer
IWGB

IWGB General Secretary writes to UoL VC Peter Kopelman following latest in-house announcement —

IWGB General Secretary writes to UoL VC Peter Kopelman following latest in-house announcement

Dear Professor Kopelman,

On 5 September, 2018 I wrote you a long email, entitled “finding another way”, in which I extended an olive branch and offered constructive engagement, dialogue, and negotiation as a way out of the industrial relations disaster playing out at University of London.  In addition to not having the courtesy to respond to my email, it seems you are deliberately trying to make matters worse with your actions since.  Indeed, so far in your short tenure:
1. Industrial relations have worsened;
2. Outsourced workers are currently being balloted for further industrial action;
3. A national demonstration on 30 October will target UoL;
4. Not one but two of your outsourced managers have engaged in racist, homophobic, or sexist behaviour in a particularly egregious way (UoL didn’t do anything about it until we made the matter public);
5. You’ve utterly failed to understand the pressing nature of the outsourcing issue by announcing that some workers won’t be brought back in house until 2021;
6. You’ve continued to engage in the destructive game of ignoring the outsourced workers and the union they have chosen to represent them by instead schmoozing with your preferred sycophants in UNISON, which these workers interpret as a slap in the face;
7. Students have engaged in flash demos inside Senate House;
8. Plans are under way for further high profile actions which, purely as a result of your own decisions, will have a lasting and damaging impact on UoL’s reputation.
The house is on fire and you’re pouring petrol on the flames.  It’s hard to imagine how you could go about things in a worse manner, even if you tried.
If paying a bloated salary is supposed to attract the best talent, I can only imagine how bad things would be if you were paid £10.20 like the cleaners!
If at any point you care to remove your head from the sand long enough to see the writing on the wall and decide to opt for engagement rather than obstinance, feel free to get in touch.
Kind regards,

 

Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
IWGB
In-House Campaña – Noticias! — October 3, 2018

In-House Campaña – Noticias!

Como algunos de ustedes ya sabrán, hace un par de dias la universidad traiciono a los trabajadores de limpieza, jardineros y a los de catering, diciendo que en el mejor de los casos los haria trabajadores directos (in house) en 2020 y 2021. La universidad a dicho que un pequeño grupo de trabajadores ( porteros, Audio Visual y Recepcionistas) trabajaran directamente para la Universidad a partir del verano del 2019, lo cual por un lado es claramente un intento cinico por parte de la universidad para dividir los trabajadores, pero tambien demuestra que poco a poco estan cediendo debido a nuestra presion.

Nosotros consideramos que esta oferta es completamente inacceptable y por eso le hemos escrito directamente al director de la universidad para decirle que continuaremos he intensificaremos la campaña (traduccion del correo debajo).
Ayer un grupo de estudiantes hizo una protesta sorpresa en la universidad, pero lo más importante es seguir presionandolos con huelgas.

El plan es hacer huelga a fin de mes para dejarle claro a la universidad que no nos van a dividir y que vamos a seguir luchando. Por eso es importantisimo que TODOS devulevan las papeletas de votos lo mas pronto posible!!

La universidad va interpretar el resultado de la votación de huelga como un consulta sobre su propuesta de no hacer nada hasta 2020. Si los trabajadores no votan a favor de la huelga, la universidad pensara que están contentos con lo que ha propuesto. Es importante decirles que NO ESTAMOS CONTENTOS.

Hoy mas que nunca tenemos que estar unidos todos, incluido los que se han beneficiado de esta ultima decision de la Universidad!!

Hasta la victoria compañeros!✊

Carta al Director
——
Estimado Profesor Kopelman,

Le escribo para expresar mi sorpresa y decepción con el mensaje enviado hoy día por su director de gestión de servicios Dr Ghazwa Alwani-Starr. Y escribo sorpresa, no porque esperaba algo diferente de los altos directivos de la Universidad de Londres, pero porque esperaba que su mandato como Vice-Rector abriría un nuevo y más justo capítulo en la relaciones de la universidad con su fuerza de trabajo más precaria.

Lamentablemente su anuncio de no garantizar que los limpiadores, jardineros y el personal de cáterin sean empleados por la universidad directamente, pero que de lo contrario se vayan a enviar propuestas de emplearlos directamente junto con otras propuestas en 2020 y 2011, muestra que está ocurriendo lo de siempre en la universidad. Tal y como su predecesor, parece estar satisfecho con ganar un salario de 6 cifras al mismo tiempo que mantiene a los trabajadores más vulnerables de la universidad en una posición de absoluta precariedad, empleados como trabajadores de segunda clase y en una situación que constituye nada menos que discriminación institucional.
Así que mientras que la Universidad de Londres continua dando largas al asunto, otras universidades han prometido emplear a los trabajadores directamente en 6 meses, como es el caso de Goldsmiths, o en un año, como el caso de Kings, donde su adjunto Ed Byrne es el director (quizá debería pedir algunos consejos).

Desafía toda lógica  que un año después de que la Universidad empezara su falsa revisión, que no incluía ningún trabajador tercerizado o el sindicato que los representa, esto sea lo mejor que pueda ofrecer. Desafía toda lógica que una institución que se supone que cuenta con las mentes más brillantes del Reino Unido, sea tan mala en gestionar sus propios servicios y no pueda ofrecer una opción in-house decente para una proporción tan grande de su fuerza laboral.

Pero quizá no debería haber sido tan ingenuo de creer que le importa la gente que limpia sus baños, su oficina y los pasillos por los que anda con otros grandes con salarios obscenos. En su experiencia estos trabajadores son fáciles de ignorar. Después de todo, se van de la Universidad pronto por la mañana antes de que usted llegue y son convenientemente invisibles.

O quizá pensaba que al hacer a una pequeña minoría de trabajadores – 95% de los cuales hombres- trabajadores directos el verano que viene y al aumentar la seguridad, podría dividir la fuerza de trabajo y aplastar la campaña de los trabajadores.
Me alegra decirle que si eso es lo que piensa, es un iluso.
Ante esta injusticia la determinación de los trabajadores de luchar es más fuerte que nunca, mientras que el apoyo comunitario crece por momentos.

Los trabajadores tienen una sola demanda: emplear a todos los trabajadores directamente para junio del 2019, o si no, junto con la comunidad universitaria y otros, intensificarán su acción hasta el punto de que usted no tendrá el lujo de ignorarlos.
Tendrá una muestra de lo que estoy hablando el 30 de octubre cuando sus trabajadores vayan a la huelga y la marcha de miles de trabajadores precarios descienda hasta la Universidad de Londres.

Con la esperanza de que entre en razón y termine esta injusticia, le envío un saludo.

Emiliano Mellino
Organiser / Press officer