Justice for Student Central Bar Staff! — March 26, 2020

Justice for Student Central Bar Staff!

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:

https://novaramedia.com/2020/03/21/coronavirus-shows-how-the-government-fails-precariousworkers/?fbclid=IwAR0s07qEnQPbmDWdpqafXfluL7Nnoe6kQmeeBQ1FdRs9wLPPjPQRMU8Gg0Y

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/coronavirus-zero-hours-contract-workers-laid-off-text-a9419261.html

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.

UoL’s failures during Covid19 Emergency —

UoL’s failures during Covid19 Emergency

This crisis has revealed again the extreme precarity that outsourcing brings to all workers employed under such contracts. While members of Aramark Bar staff at Student Central were laid off without pay on Monday, on friday dozens of Cleaners were informed that they would not receive full pay of their wages.

IWGB-UoL wrote to VC Wendy Thomson to demand immediate actions:

*****

Dear Ms Thomson

I hope this email finds you well

I am writing to you once again to bring to your attention two instances of appalling treatment received by outsourced workers at University of London and the harmful indifference that your institution is showing towards them.

Your institution has a duty of care to these already precarious workers who are currently being put at great risk as a result of your actions in the context of the ongoing health crisis.

I am writing to alert you to the situation they are in, and I trust you will take immediate action to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

Indefinite Lay-Off without pay of Student Central Bar Staff

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: https://novaramedia.com/2020/03/21/coronavirus-shows-how-the-government-fails-precariousworkers/?fbclid=IwAR0s07qEnQPbmDWdpqafXfluL7Nnoe6kQmeeBQ1FdRs9wLPPjPQRMU8Gg0Y & https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/coronavirus-zero-hours-contract-workers-laid-off-text-a9419261.html

 To guarantee the safety and wellbeing of these workers, the University of London must take immediate action and ensure that the following demands are met:

  1. 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),
  2. Aramark will provide all of them with a written statement of particulars. The terms and conditions reflected (hours of work) will be subject to consultation with all individuals involved.


Unlawful deduction of wages of cleaners during closure.

For months, cleaners employed by Cordant at UoL have persistently requested to be issued with updated contracts of employment. A group of them work 7 hours a day, 3 hours in Senate House and 4 hours in the Residence Halls. However, their contracts of employment only reflect 3 hours’ work a day. This is despite the fact that some of them have worked 7 hours every day since 2016.  

Several cleaners have raised complaints about this over the past months. Recently, a collective formal grievance was raised. A first outcome was sent confirming that they were right and that they would therefore be provided with an updated contract of employment. However, following an intervention by Cordant management at UoL, the cleaners received an amended outcome confirming that they would not be receiving any updated contract and that any hours beyond 3 contracted hours would be considered overtime.  This left the cleaners with no other option but to initiate tribunal proceedings against Cordant in order to obtain an updated contract of employment.

On Friday 20th March, Cordant management informed some of our members that during closure they would only be paid their contracted hours. This means that dozens of cleaners, to whom an updated contract was denied, will receive only 3 hours of payment instead of 7 per day.

This means that these workers will be left with only half of their income during this pandemic. This decision is not only unlawful but also shows the lack of the most basic humanity towards the cleaning staff at University of London. Several of our members are in a situation of extreme anxiety, unsure on how they will manage to make ends meet, with some of them taking care of family members who have been left out of work during the current crisis.

We therefore urge the University to take immediate measures to ensure that:

  1. All cleaners are paid based on the hours they have persistently worked over the past 12 weeks.
  2. All cleaners affected by this situation are to be provided contracts of employment reflecting the hours they work.

Time for University of London to step up

Whilst other Universities have announced that all staff, including zero hours and casual staff, will be paid their full salary during the whole length of this crisis, the University of London continues to drag its feet.

The current circumstances reveal which institutions are able to lead the way in adapting to offer compassionate and appropriate responses to the current crisis, and which are failing to. UoL has let down its workers in a time of great need, and left them to face poverty in the midst of a pandemic.

However, there is another way forward. You can listen to the voices of outsourced workers and of the wider community asking public institutions to show the way in protecting all members of staff. 

The choice is yours: abandon those who work for you in a time of crisis, or show that the University of London cares for its community, in which these workers play a vital role. The public is watching: your actions in this critical period will not be forgotten. You choose how UoL’s handling of this crisis will be remembered in the future. 

Kind Regards

Further guarantees needed for outsourced workers at UCL — March 23, 2020

Further guarantees needed for outsourced workers at UCL

On 20 March UCL announced  that staff who work at UCL on an “as and when “ basis, i.e. casual and zero hours workers, will be paid their average weekly earnings over the closure period, calculated on the basis of their earnings over the last 12 weeks. This being paid whether they are required to work or not during the coronavirus outbreak.

We celebrate and welcome this important concession, which is the outcome of the fierce determination of the outsourced workers, the solidarity and support of the wider UCL community and the media and press attention brought to the treatment of casual staff at UCL.

However, UCL must take further steps:

Robust scrutiny of the implementation of policies by subcontractors

UCL must ensure that the policies announced are implemented accordingly by your subcontractors. Since UCL made the announcement on Friday we have already been informed by some of our members that Sodexo managers have stated that those employees who are sick will only receive SSP or that workers on zero hours contracts will not receive payment if they do not work. Our members working for Axis have also received similar confusing emails, which claim they are only entitled to SSP.

We therefore urge you to cascade the information properly and scrutinize carefully the implementation of the policies announced. As one part of this, UCL must provide confirmation of reengagement of all the zero hours contract workers laid off by Sodexo and ensure that they receive payment since the day they were laid off.

A ban on zero-hour contracts

The reason dozens of outsourced workers were laid off and left without their main source of income, with less that one day notice, is because of the nature of their contracts of employment. Without quality contracts their precarity will continue.

We therefore urge UCL to ban all zero hours contracts. All workers should be provided with written particulars of employment with contractual hours.

Lack of guarantees for Hospitality and Catering Staff

Furthermore, the announcement constitutes no guarantee for Hospitality and Catering staff. This is due to the nature of their contractual relation with the employer. There are two main areas of concern which must be immediately addressed:

a. Absence of yearly contracts

Not a single member of the Hospitality and Catering team at UCL  have yearly contracts. (They are employed on 28week/40week contracts). This means that in most cases their contracts will terminate at the end of the month giving the subcontractor the right to refuse to provide them with any work.

UCL’s announcement therefore constitutes no guarantee against the precarious nature of their contracts of employment. We therefore demand For all members of the Hospitality/Catering Team to be provided with 52 week / yearly contracts of employment.

b. Contracts not reflecting the hours they work

Currently, the contracts of employment of the Catering and Hospitality Team do not reflect the hours they  actually work, most of the hours being considered “overtime”. This must be resolved and all employees need to be provided with updated particulars of employment which reflect all the hours. The contracted hours reflected on these contracts will be based on the average of weekly hours over the last 6 months. The contracts should be for a minimum of 40 hours a week.

It is only by addressing the above that UCL can guarantee that no outsourced worker will suffer any detriment during the current crisis.

We therefore urge UCL to take immediate steps to address the matters above.

UCL may decide to continue to ignore the demands of outsourced workers and the IWGB. However, UCL will no longer be able to ignore the voices of the wider public and community calling for equality, justice and dignity for all outsourced workers during this crisis.

UCL: Time to Step Up — March 20, 2020

UCL: Time to Step Up

Major concession won: On March 19, UCL announced that one of our key demands during the current COVID-19 crisis will be met:  UCL’s subcontractors Sodexo and Axis will be harmonising sick pay with the UCL scheme from Monday 23rd March, ensuring that outsourced workers at UCL get decent sick pay. Furthemore, any absence due to COVID-19 will not count towards normal absence trigger points.The IWGB welcomes this announcement, which is the result of the relentless pressure and the determination of the outsourced workers.  We also welcome the confirmation by UCL that their subcontractors Sodexo and Axis will be honouring the contracted hours for all outsourced staff over the coming weeks, through the period of closure due to COVID-19 at UCL.Whilst these announcements from UCL are important steps, they are not sufficient.

The current public health crisis has revealed the disregard shown by UCL and its subcontractors to the outsourced workforce, who have been forgotten when it comes to implementing health and safety protections, ignored when they have requested information, and in some cases callously laid off by the subcontractors as buildings close. There are still a number of outstanding issues which must be dealt with.

UCL must take a more robust response to this crisis. Mainly:

1. Immediate reinstatement and guarantee of full payment for all workers who have been laid off during COVID-19 Crisis

Following a flurry of complaints by our union and by UCL staff and students, UCL declared yesterday that no outsourced workers have lost their jobs as a result of the current crisis, merely that ‘as and when’ staff have not been booked in for further shifts.

Juan Camilo, Maria Arias, Luz Mary, Betty Marina,  Pam, Onailda… these are only a few names of the more than 30 outsourced workers who have lost their jobs and their only source of income over the last few days.

All workers, including casual workers, deserve security and UCL should not allow its subcontractors to lay off staff during this crisis, even if they have only worked here for one month. Nonetheless, it is bizarre for UCL to claim that these workers are ‘as and when’ staff:

  • Camilo has worked at Gordon Square since October 2019 for 3 hours per day. He was given a zero hour contract by Sodexo and promised he would be given a permanent contract, but this never happened.
  • Maria Arias has worked at Hawkridge House for 3 hours per day since September 2019. She was given a Zero hour contract and was also hoping to be made permanent.
  • Pâmella Montezano Cora has worked regularly at Gordon Square for 3 hour per day.

These workers are part of the team at UCL and it is disgraceful that Sodexo has treated them like they are disposable. A full list of these staff can be provided by the IWGB, should UCL want further evidence that these staff work on their site regularly.

Sodexo has laid off all of its casual staff and all those on zero hours contracts. In some cases some of the employees had not even signed a contract of employment, despite many of these workers having worked here for months or even over a year.
UCL must insist its subcontractor Sodexo immediately reinstates all of these staff and ensure that they receive full payment of wages during this crisis at their weekly average income (based on the average of their earnings over the previous 12 weeks) and that they receive the new occupational sick pay entitlement in line with the rest of outsourced staff.

2. A ban on all zero hour contracts at UCLThe situation described above has brought to light the inhumane nature of zero hour contracts and the precariousness to which they condemn workers, particularly in situations such as the COVID-19 crisis. UCL should not allow a model to operate at this university which encourages its contractors to abandon their staff during times like this.

This is why we call for a ban on all zero hour contracts on campus. All outsourced workers who have been laid off must be reinstated and provided with written particulars of employment (the content of these, of course, to be agreed with each individual).

3. Payment absences due to COVID-19 or closure

  • Any absence due to COVID-19 (self isolation/sickness) must not be deducted from a worker’s Sick Leave balance.
  • In the case of building closure all workers must receive full pay.
    • This must be calculated based on their average working hours over the past 12 weeks. Many security staff at UCL routinely work 20+ hours above their contracted hours. This is how Axis, the security subcontractor, wishes to run its contract during normal business, so staff should also be paid for these regular overtime hours during this extraordinary situation.
    • This closure period is an extraordinary situation and all staff who are not required to work should receive pay as though they are at work. For instance, some security staff at UCL receive an attendance allowance, this must be provided to them as long as they are fit and available to work, regardless of whether they are required to come in during the closure period.

4. Coronavirus Mitigation Group to include all Trade Unions on Campus

  • UCL has announced that they will include every Trade Union on Campus in their Coronavirus Mitigation Group, with the exception of the IWGB.
  • The IWGB, which represents the majority of outsourced workers on campus, has been leading the way raising issues of health and safety faced by outsourced workers. The IWGB has offered emergency meetings with UCL and its subcontractors to help develop solutions to issues, made clear demands and brought 3 legal challenges against employers for their failure to ensure health and safety.
  • We publicly condemn the failure to include the IWGB as part of the Coronavirus Mitigation Group. The exclusion of the IWGB is part of a longer pattern of irresponsible behaviour by UCL that fails to step up to the current circumstances. Outsourced workers deserve a voice in shaping UCL’s response to this situation.

5. Health and Safety demands

Despite persistently demanding for UCL to take robust action to ensure the Health and Safety of all outsourced workers on campus, no action has been taken to address the multiple concerns raised. Mainly:

  • ensure that all subcontractors carry out appropriate risk assessments and issue health and safety guidelines for members of staff. Risk assessments should be performed following the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). This is a legal requirement and it is shocking that proper assessments have not yet been undertaken, despite numerous concerns raised by outsourced staff across different sites.
  • ensure that all subcontractors carry out an assessment to identify those workers who are at risk (and those that take care of people at risk) and make sure those people are supported to immediately self-isolate.
  • ensure provision of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment – e.g. masks, gloves and hand sanitiser for all staff, as determined by risk assessments for each site. For example, all operations security staff should have at least 2 pairs of gloves per day for conducting their two shifts of patrols.
  • Immediate action regarding high risk zones. In particular Residence Halls & Medical facilities: Residence halls are a high risk area due to many students living there in close proximity. Already our members have seen notices in these halls where areas such as communal kitchens have been designated for use by only those in self-isolation. However, cleaners are being required to clean these areas. Similarly, in UCL’s medical facilities, such as Queen Square House, there has been transfer of infected material (such as 4 dead bodies in QSH) through areas cleaned and secured by UCL’s outsourced staff.
    • UCL must immediately complete robust health and safety risk assessments and demonstrate the implementation of strict health and safety protocols, including strict rules for students residing in halls of residency with symptoms to fully self-isolate.
    • All non-essential staff will be granted full pay special leave and the remaining staff will operate on a rota system.
    • For rooms of individuals self isolating and common spaces such as kitchens and toilets to be cleaned by Specialist subcontractors who ensure that the highest levels of health and safety are implemented to ensure that disinfection of all areas with residents self-isolating

6. Clear up your communications
UCL has put out daily communications to all staff, which is commendable. Regrettably, UCL’s subcontractors have not followed your example and have been woefully lacking in their communications with outsourced staff.

Moreover, your security subcontractor Axis has on several occasions directly contradicted announcements and statements made by UCL. For instance, last week UCL announced that all staff, including outsourced staff, would be entitled to 14 days special leave on full pay should they need to self-isolate. However, last night Axis emailed all security staff on the contract at UCL to inform them that there had been some confusion and they would not be paid this rate, rather if they need to self-isolate they would be entitled only to Statutory Sick Pay (£94 per week) after several days, under their normal sickness absence policy.

The IWGB assumes that Axis is merely making another display of their usual incompetence and UCL has not reversed its position that all outsourced staff will also be entitled to the 14 days special leave. However, this sort of thing is extremely concerning for the workers, who are being given contradictory information regarding vital matters of whether or not they will get paid if they get sick during this crisis.

It is vital that UCL gets a grip of this situation and ensures clear communication to staff by its subcontractors, in line with the policies UCL has decided upon.

Finally,

You may think that ignoring the demands of outsourced workers and their trade union representatives is the best course of action for now. You are excluding workers from having input into how to mitigate the worst effects of the COVID-19 crisis.
UCL, as a high profile institution with a global reputation, should be at the forefront of dealing with COVID-19. In this light, I ask you to think about how we, the wider UCL community, and the public will look back on these patterns of behaviours. Across London, workers, organisations, and communities have shown immense strength by coming together collectively to respond. You, UCL, and the outsourcing companies are, for now, on the wrong side of history. Now is the time to step up.

Regards,
Dr Jamie Woodcock
Branch SecretaryUniversity of London IWGB

🚨IWGB-UoL demands during the COVID-19 crisis🚨 — March 18, 2020

🚨IWGB-UoL demands during the COVID-19 crisis🚨

In light of the worsening Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, and taking into account the serious failures of UCL and its subcontractors to ensure the health and safety of outsourced staff, IWGB University of London has agreed to put forward a series of demands:

First, a written guarantee of full pay for all outsourced workers, counted as special leave, for as long as needed, in cases of sickness due to coronavirus or if self-isolation is required, whether for themselves or to protect vulnerable others.

Second, greater clarity on the procedures and requirements to access the special leave policy that has already been announced by UCL. The government and NHS are not issuing sick notes until after 7 days of self-isolation, but are instructing workers to stay home if they have symptoms. UCL and its subcontractors should ensure that all workers who need to self-isolate receive full pay on a special leave basis for as long as necessary, without the requirement to provide a sick note. This is important as part of an employer’s legal duty of care to workers who are at risk.

Third, UCL and its subcontractors must identify workers who are at risk and ensure they self-isolate and the appropriate support is provided to them.

Fourth, for staff on Zero-Hour and Temporary Contracts: Guarantee that workers on zero hours contracts will be paid during self-isolation, sick leave, and in case of closure or reduction in service at UCL. This should be paid at a rate the same as the average they have earned over the 12 previous weeks. The same should apply if services close down or reduce the level of service. At least 12 hospitality staff have already been dismissed at UCL by your subcontractor Sodexo. These staff should all immediately be reinstated and guaranteed payment as specified above for the duration of the reduction in service at UCL. All planned redundancies of this sort should immediately be halted.

Fifth, ensure that all subcontractors carry out appropriate risk assessments and issue health and safety guidelines for members of staff, and that they carry out an assessment to identify those at risk (and those that take care of people at risk) and make sure those people are supported to immediately self-isolate. Risk assessments should be performed following the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). This must involve:

1. finding out what the health hazards are;
2. deciding how to prevent harm to health (risk assessment);
3. providing control measures to reduce harm to health;
4. making sure they are used;
5. keeping all control measures in good working order;
6. providing information, instruction and training for employees and others;
7. providing monitoring and health surveillance in appropriate cases,
8. planning for emergencies.

Sixth, ensure provision of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment – e.g. masks, gloves and hand sanitiser for all staff, as determined by risk assessments for each site. For example, all operations security staff should have at least 2 pairs of gloves per day for conducting their two shifts of patrols.

Seventh, closure of all possible UCL sites and reduction of the amount of workers on site as far as possible:

– Close all buildings possible to be closed.

– Ensure that those who are vulnerable on account of age, health conditions or caring responsibilities are removed from site on special leave with full pay effective immediately.

– Identify all non-essential roles on site and ensure those staff are removed from site on special leave with full pay as soon as possible. Run a skeleton crew on site with minimum possible staff. For all essential roles, identify all those staff who are fit to work and bring them in on a weekly rota system in small teams. This will help to ensure staff health and safety and reduce the public health risk by reducing the number of staff who come into contact with one another and who have to commute using public transport.

Eight, immediate action regarding high risk zones, in particular Residence Halls & Medical facilities:

Residence halls are a high risk area due to many students living there in close proximity. Already our members have seen notices in these halls where areas such as communal kitchens have been designated for use by only those in self-isolation. However, cleaners are being required to clean these areas. Similarly, in UCL’s medical facilities, such as Queen Square House, there has been transfer of infected material (such as 4 dead bodies in QSH) through areas cleaned and secured by UCL’s outsourced staff.

UCL must immediately complete robust health and safety risk assessments and demonstrate the implementation of strict health and safety protocols, including strict rules for students residing in halls of residency with symptoms to fully self-isolate.

All non-essential staff will be granted full pay special leave and the remaining staff will operate on a rota system.
For rooms of individuals self isolating and common spaces such as kitchens and toilets to be cleaned by Specialist subcontractors who ensure that the highest levels of health and safety are implemented to ensure that disinfection of all areas with residents self-isolating.

Nine, UCL has done well to provide daily updates to staff regarding the developing situation. UCL’s subcontractors Axis and Sodexo should also be required to provide daily updates on the situation to outsourced staff. UCL should also provide full transparency to staff and trade unions regarding its pandemic response plan and UCL should invite representatives from all unions that represent workers on campus to attend meetings with the UCL COVID-19 working group or another appropriate body.

Failure to meet these demands puts all workers and students at risk across UCL.

If these demands are not met by midday 12:00 on Thursday 19th of March, we will escalate action until you agree to do so, including taking appropriate legal action, notifying the Health and Safety Executive, and recommending that our members begin immediate industrial action.

We will not stand idly by while our members face these unacceptable risks.

COVID 19 Emergency Updates at UoL — March 17, 2020

COVID 19 Emergency Updates at UoL

COVID 19 Emergency/Update 17.03.2019

On March 12 IWGB wrote to the University of London to confirm that they are taking the necessary health and safety measures for the current context and to demand full payment in case of isolation without this being deducted from their sick leave balance

Yesterday we wrote to the University after some members working in residences expressed concern that students in the residence are in isolation because of symptoms. We have demanded clarification of the situation in the Halls of Residence and the protocol being followed.

The IWGB has also informed the University know that the current situation would require specific risk assessments under the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 2002 (COSHH). This implies:

1. finding out what the health hazards are;

2. deciding how to prevent damage to health (risk assessment);

3. Providing control measures to reduce damage to health;

4. Ensure that they are used;

5. maintaining all control measures in good working order;

6. Provide information, instruction and training for employees and others;

7. providing health supervision and monitoring in appropriate cases

8. emergency planning.

We would like to reiterate one message to all of our members: If you have not been provided with information or do not believe that adequate safety measures are being taken, do not work. If you do not feel safe, please contract your Union Reps immediately

IWGB Reps have also been contacted by some members who suffer of health conditions or are in charge of people who are at risk. These people are concerned about the coronavirus outbreak and (1) whether they need to come to work or not, as they prefer to stay away from risks, and (2) whether they can get paid if they do. The union is working to provide support with this.

If you are in this situation too, please contact your Trade Union Representatives. It would be helpful to know who needs support with this.

Justice4Gulzeb: STOP THE VICTIMISATION OF THIS OUTSOURCED SECURITY OFFICER AT UoL — March 11, 2020

Justice4Gulzeb: STOP THE VICTIMISATION OF THIS OUTSOURCED SECURITY OFFICER AT UoL

Gulzeb Khan has worked as a Security Officer at  University of London since 8 July 2019.  Since the beginning of his employment at University of London, Gulzeb has worked a minimum of 58 hours a week. For months he requested a contract of employment from his managers, but his requests were ignored.

Eventually, on Thursday 17 January he was given a contract.  However, the contract only showed that Gulzeb was employed for a total of 24 hours a week, which did not reflect his actual terms and conditions of employment. Gulzeb continued to be given 58 hours work a week.

On 22 January, Mr Khan raised a grievance in which he asserted his right to be provided with a contract that accurately reflected all his hours of employment.  In the grievance letter, Mr Khan detailed how he had worked an average of 58 hours since the start of his employment on a persistent basis. He claimed that the contract of employment he had been provided after months of request did not reflect his terms and conditions of employment.

On the week following the submission of his grievance, Gulzeb checked his rota to find that  most of his shifts had been cancelled which led to a reduction of 50% of his hours of work.

When Gulzeb called the schedulers to ask why his shifts had been cancelled he was informed  by the controller that the manager on the contract  had sent an email asking for his shifts to be cancelled. In the weeks following, Gulzeb would be assigned shifts that would then be cancelled. Each time he called the scheduler he was informed that, according to instructions from the manager at University of London, his shifts were cancelled. The fact this change only occurred after Gulzeb submitted a formal complaint constitutes a blatant example of victimisation.

As already mentioned Mr Khan has worked an average of 58 hours since the start of his employment and the reduction to his hours only occurred after he raised a grievance in which he asked for an updated contract of employment.

Gulzeb, who is father of two and only breadwinner of his household also takes care of his elderly mother back in Pakistan and of his brother who is currently in hospital after undergoing very serious surgery.  

This is a very serious situation because I support my children and take care of my wife who is very sick. …My dad past away last year and I have been taking care of my elderly mother and of my young brother, who recently went through a very serious medical intervention.  I am not given any more shifts and this is putting my whole family in a terrible financial situation. I am struggling at the moment.  For months I have been working for 5 or 6 days a week, and since I raise my complained they are cancelling all my shifts and only working a couple of days a week. I need help and support and hope that University of London will help. I work really hard for the University, and I hope I can obtain justice

#Justice4Gulzeb

Gulzeb needs your support in this difficult and stressful situation.  Please email UoL’s VC urging her to put an end to the victimisation of Gulzeb: wendy.thomson@london.ac.uk & simon.cain@london.ac.uk

“Dear Ms Thomson

I am writing to express my Solidarity with Gulzen Khan, Security Officer at University of London.  I urge you to take immediate action to stop the victimisation of Gulzeb and ensure that your outsourced manager stop cancelling his shifts and Gulzeb is allowed to work 5 days a week as usual.  

#Justice4Gulzeb

Kind Regards”

What it’s like to get sick as an outsourced worker at UCL … —

What it’s like to get sick as an outsourced worker at UCL …

Earlier this year, two outsourced security staff at UCL had to take time off work after each of them was badly injured outside of work. This has revealed just how poorly UCL supports its outsourced staff when they become sick.

One of these security officers, David Kikupi, has asked us to share his story so that his colleagues, friends, members of the UCL community and supporters of our campaign to end outsourcing are aware of just how bad the situation can get.

David in St Mary's HospitalDavid in St Mary’s hospital with a colleague


A couple of friends from work asked if I would write a letter describing what has happened to me recently – what has kept me away from work. They said I should detail what happened, the effect it has had on my life, the difficulties it has caused me and what I feel about these experiences.

But first of all, a bit of background. My family is in Kenya. I came to the UK when I was 20 to build my life here. I’m now 42. The UK and London in particular, is my home. For just over 10 years now I have worked as a security officer at University College London. Firstly for one security outsourcing company, then when they left I chose to stay at UCL and take employment with the new security outsourcing company. Just as I have made London my home I see UCL as my place of work.

Early in December I travelled to Kenya to visit my mother and the rest of the family. It was while driving in Nairobi that I had an accident. A collision with another car that turned out quite bad. My foot was badly mangled and required major surgery to put it back together. It was clear from the start I’d be in hospital for a long time and would need many operations to repair the damage to the foot.

If this accident had happened in the UK, although serious, it wouldn’t have caused me the problems it has. The initial surgery was done in a Nairobi hospital. My fiancée and I were planning our wedding for this year in the summer of 2020. I had been saving up money for our wedding. In Kenyan culture the groom is often expected to pay a dowry for the bride and I had also saved money for this. The hospital treatment, unlike in the UK, had to be paid for. And although not expensive, it was completely unexpected. All the money I had saved got used for medical bills.

This meant a very difficult conversation with Pheliciah, my fiancée. A conversation I would have given anything not to have. Our wedding has had to be put off. Naturally, she was understanding, she’s not blaming me, it wasn’t my fault, but I cannot help feeling at times that I have let her down.

Because of my financial situation, the money I had was running out, and the fact my foot would need major reconstructive surgery, I got myself discharged from the hospital in Nairobi and got a flight to London. From the airport I went straight to Barnet Hospital, then transferred to St. Mary’s, Paddington, which is a hospital specialising in major trauma injuries.

Although I was prepared to pay the rent on my London flat while on holiday, I wasn’t prepared for all this time in hospital and with funds running out I have had to let my flat go because I just cannot pay the rent. As an outsourced worker for UCL, I received a few weeks of company sick pay from the outsourcing company, after which I do not get anything other than the minimum statutory sick pay of £94.25 per week. Nowhere near enough to cover my rent, so I am now effectively homeless. Some of my colleagues from work helped me get my belongings into storage, otherwise I don’t know what I would have done. When the hospital does discharge me, they aren’t going to put me on the street, they have said they will arrange a room in a hostel.

I have my pride and this is a big come down for me. Out of a clear blue sky something completely unexpected happens. Something no one would plan for. My whole life has been turned upside down. I had my own flat in London, I had money in the bank and best of all, I was looking forward to my upcoming marriage. Now everything is up in the air. I find myself in a place I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. As I said, I have my pride, and I know I will get back on my feet. I’ll get back to work, then I’ll stop in the hostel long enough to get some money saved, get a flat, get everything back on track.

The thing I have learned from this is just how precarious life can be. Everything was going well for me and life couldn’t have been sweeter. And then, without warning, it all turns to mud.

I’m not a jealous person, but you look at your friends that work for almost any other sort of organisation, other than an outsourcing company, and you realise that if I had worked for almost any other employer I would not be in this situation. If I had got just the usual sort of sick pay everyone else seems to get, I would not have burned all my savings, I would not have lost my flat and most of all, I would have not have let my fiancée down.

But what is really galling is having spent over ten years of my life working at UCL, often 60 hours or more in a week, when something goes wrong, you realise that ultimately you are not part of the club. It doesn’t matter how the staff, in the building where I now work, try to make you feel part of the team and how much you are encouraged to identify with UCL, when things turn bad you are not part of the team at all. That’s when the reality of your employment situation hits home. Some piece of bad luck could happen to any of us UCL outsourced workers at any time and you find yourself in desperate trouble, as I have done.

UCL has employed security staff directly in the past, you’d wonder why they cannot do it again and give us security equal access to basic rights such as decent sick pay. It would have made such a difference to me.


David is now out of hospital and is staying with a relative while he recovers. He has been off work for over 2 months now and it will likely take several more months before he recovers.

David has received a few weeks company sick pay from UCL’s security subcontractor Axis at his normal rate of pay, but has now moved onto statutory sick pay at a much lower rate. This means he will have to support himself on only £94.25 per week.


The IWGB union was pleased to hear in the Autumn that UCL had promised to level up the sick pay entitlement for outsourced staff by July 2020, meaning that outsourced staff will then on receive full sick pay when sick – the equivalent entitlement to UCL employees.

However, in both David and his colleague’s cases, this would mean that they will not receive these entitlements until July. As a result, they are facing severe hardship, with neither of them able to earn their usual income.

For this reason, the IWGB union has written today to UCL’s Provost Michael Arthur and the UCL Council to ask them to speed up the implementation of improvements to sick pay for outsourced workers and to ensure that both David and his colleague receive full sick pay immediately.

This issue of poor sickness benefits is a key plank of our union’s campaign for equality and an end to outsourcing at UCL. UCL’s direct employees receive significantly better sickness entitlements than outsourced staff. It is only right that UCL’s outsourced staff receive equal terms and conditions as direct employees and UCL should act now to make improvements and end outsourcing.

In the Autumn, the university stated publicly that they disapprove of the deterioration of terms and conditions that have taken place over the years for UCL’s outsourced workforce and they wish to rectify this. Right now, two valued members of staff are suffering as a result of that deterioration. UCL has promised to improve this situation in a few months time in July, but that will be too late for these two members of UCL staff, who are being left in an extremely precarious position as a result of UCL’s policies.

There is no good reason why the improvements UCL has promised should not be sped up and implemented right away. UCL has the financial resources at its disposal. And logistically it is not complicated to extend decent sickness benefits to staff as the processes for (inadequate) company sick pay are already in place.

The only reason UCL management wishes to delay delivering these improvements is to slow down the campaign led by UCL’s outsourced workers for full equality and an end to outsourcing.

But UCL’s delay tactics must end now, there is simply too much at stake. The sick pay issue has ramifications beyond the fight for fair and just treatment for David and his colleagues. With the increasing risks posed by the spread of Coronavirus in the UK, it is vital that ALL staff have the entitlements and benefits they need to be able to take leave if they get sick. Poor conditions for outsourced staff will impact everyone in the UCL community.

UCL must act now to improve sickness entitlements for all outsourced staff.

If you support our call for decent sick pay for all staff at UCL, please write to the Provost of UCL and to the UCL Council here:

Provost: michael.arthur@ucl.ac.uk

Members of UCL Council with publicly listed email addresses: h.pikhart@ucl.ac.ukl.clapp@ucl.ac.uka.dolphin@ucl.ac.ukp.haggard@ucl.ac.uka.coker@ucl.ac.ukh.roberts@ucl.ac.uke.officer@ucl.ac.ukdoc.officer@ucl.ac.uk,

Registrar and Secretary of UCL Council: w.appleby@ucl.ac.uk,

Members of UCL senior management: m.blain@ucl.ac.ukf.fryer@ucl.ac.uk,c.tranter@ucl.ac.ukduncan.palmer@ucl.ac.ukf.ryland@ucl.ac.uk,


Many thanks for your support!

In solidarity,

The IWGB union

UCL Campaign General Meeting: representatives of cleaners & porters renew their commitment to fight outsourcing — February 21, 2020

UCL Campaign General Meeting: representatives of cleaners & porters renew their commitment to fight outsourcing

Last Saturday, representatives of cleaners at UCL attended their Campaign General Meeting 2020 to discuss the next steps in the campaign and the current situation following UCL’s announcement of improved terms and conditions for outsourced staff.

On 28 November, following the biggest strike of outsourced workers in the history of Education UCL announced improvements to outsourced workers’ terms and conditions:

  1. UCL confirmed outsourced workers will receive increased holiday entitlement from 1 December 2019.
  2. UCL would implement improved pay on 1 April 2020 and equal sickness benefits on 1 July 2020.

See full statement here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2019/nov/equalised-pay-and-benefits-confirmed-ucls-security-cleaning-portering-and-catering-staff

In the General Meeting the representatives agreed that this had been a major step in their campaign and the improvements constituted a victory in itself. However, the all shared the feeling that the announcement was not enough and considered that some very important element were missing from UCL’s current positions on outsourcing:

  • UCL do not say what will happen with pay  and the pay grade that will be given to Cleaners and Porters
  • UCL’s announcement does not yet mention a timeline for other benefits such as pensions and parental leave. Parity means nothing without such rights!
  • Furthermore, UCL has committed to ending outsourcing.

Following a lengthy and fruitful discussion, the representatives renewed their commitment to continue the End Outsourcing Campaign and decided to centre this on some key demands:

  • Ending Outsourcing and for UCL to take directly responsibility for the employment of Cleaners and Porters (and all other outsourced workers)
  • Fighting to a decent salary, which would mean Cleaner and Porters to be placed on Grade 6 of the UCL pay scale
  • Along with the implementation of Occupational Sick Pay in July 2020, for UCL to also implement Pension benefit and parental leave.
  • For UCL to ban zero hours contracts and for all current casual workers to be provided with permanent contract of employment reflecting their hours of work.
  • UCL to include all unions representing outsourced workers on campus in the negotiations of their terms and conditions.

The meeting concluded with an agreement to pursue action, with a protest scheduled within the next month and strike plans in the making.  The representatives also wrote individual letters to UCL council member to demand the inclusion of the IWGB in the current negotiations regarding outsourcing. We will be soon sharing the letters on social media!

The fight continues at UCL!