Victory: Security Officers stop cuts to hours at UCL — July 29, 2020

Victory: Security Officers stop cuts to hours at UCL

On 6 July a first consultation meeting with Security Officers took place in which AXIS announced a series of changes with a serious impact of the terms and conditions of our member at UCL.

After a public campaign and relentless pressure from the IWGB-UoL branch AXIS and UCL have announced the halt of the process.

UCL and its subcontractors have been forced to stop the process after the inconsistencies & lies were persistently exposed and legal challenges brought against #ucl and its subcontractor. We will fight until the whole process is buried altogether!

Workers fought back and exposed the contradictions of the whole process:

This revealed how outsourced companies will try anything to profit from this crisis but it has also shown the appalling indifference displayed by #ucl towards all the workers who have been at the frontline during the pandemic:

What has this process revealed about outsourcing at #ucl?

1.The length to which outsourced companies go to increase their margin of profit at the cost of the livelihoods of key workers: spreading misinformation, lying systematically and withholding information. However, we caught the subcontractor’s manager red handed after the information provided during the consultation was confirmed to be false by #ucl themselves! These are the sort of outsourcing cowboys we have to fight against See the full story here:

2.This has also shown #ucl‘s hypocrisy and tremendous gap between statement and practice #ucl‘s BLM statements are nothing but words void of any meaning in the light of the treatment received by predominantly black Sec.Officers who have been at the frontline during the pandemic

3.For precarious BAME workers, racial discrimination is embedded into the very terms of their contracts. It is an injustice lived daily. Despite its promises and public declarations, #ucl continues to fail to hold subcontractors or itself to account for exploitation & dishonesty

4. This is why we have been campaigning to be brought in-house since October: exploitation will continue as long as outsourcing allows #ucl to dodge accountability for workers’ conditions.

Outsourced workers deserve justice&equality, that is why Outsourcing must end Now!

Attempted Security Cuts at UCL — July 7, 2020

Attempted Security Cuts at UCL

UCL’s subcontractor Axis is trying to cut the frontline security staff who risked their lives to keep everyone safe in the pandemic.

On 10 June, UCL’s subcontractor Axis announced that it would be conducting consultations with security staff with a plan of ‘rationalising’ their shift patterns. Axis stated that “the current irregular shift patterns are damaging to the service delivery requirements and performance indicators.”

Many security staff at UCL work irregular shift patterns, due to family or caring responsibilities or other jobs – as is typical in most workplaces. We were immediately concerned that Axis might try to change our members’ shift patterns unilaterally. But now we have learnt Axis’s plan is even worse than that.

Yesterday, Axis held the first meeting with security officers as part of this consultation process. Axis announced they plan to make a series of changes with a serious impact on the terms and conditions of many security officers.

Most of the officers who were invited to the meeting, and whose shifts are being lined up for changes, are already working a regular ‘5 days ON, 2 days OFF’ shift pattern. This is not what we expected. These officers are already on highly regular shift patterns – in fact they are on one of the 3 shift patterns that Axis said it wants to move officers onto. Why is Axis trying to change their shifts?

Despite their shift pattern being one of the standard patterns Axis said it was planning to move everyone onto, officers were informed that their shift pattern would change resulting in a significant loss to their contractual hours of work. This means that some officers who are currently working on 5 days ON 2 days OFF will now have their shift pattern changed to 4 days ON 4 days OFF which means that their average weekly hours will drop from 60 hours to 42 hours, leading to a substantial loss of wages and threatening their livelihoods.

This not only means that Axis will breach the contract of employment of dozens of security officers, but that it will also jeopardize the financial position of dozens of families.

This amounts to a unilateral change to the terms and conditions of employment and would constitute a breach of the contract of employment of all officers affected. Axis have not attempted to obtain our consent to make these changes and have made it clear that our consent will not be sought to go ahead with these changes.

Axis said that the rationale for the changes is that they want to make the site easier to manage, but when it came to the first consultation meeting yesterday the real plan was clear to see – they are trying to make extensive cuts.

Axis’s stated rationale for the changes makes no sense here, as they are changing the patterns of people who are already on a regular pattern. During the meeting, a number of officers highlighted how their sites did not have any staffing issues and they had a regular and consistent shift pattern, which is supposedly the purpose of the suggested changes. Axis has failed to provide any real business rationale to breach the contract of employment of these officers who mostly work in buildings that are properly staffed and have no operational challenges.

Yesterday’s meeting, rather than a consultation, amounted to a situation in which an already drafted plan is being imposed upon staff. Furthermore, the deadline for this process is extremely short – concluding on 28 July. AXIS is attempting to address this process in an expedite manner without properly consulting nor providing any transparent information to employees.

At no point did Axis present the officers with alternative arrangements to ensure that the officers affected could continue to work their contracted hours. This is despite AXIS having a number of vacancies at present, which puts in question the necessity of the changes suggested.

Concerningly, during the meeting an Axis HR manager also mentioned that some officers’ employment might be terminated as a result of this process. If this is the case then this is a redundancy process, and as such Axis are already in breach of the law for the failure to follow an appropriate collective consultation process, which requires a minimum 30 days consultation process.

It seems clear that Axis is trying to make cuts by the backdoor. This is entirely unacceptable and will throw many of UCL’s security staff into financial difficulties.

At the meeting yesterday, Axis confirmed that these unilateral changes were being proposed at the request of UCL. For this reason, the IWGB has written to UCL to make these demands:

  1. The process must be halted.
  2. All information must be provided to security staff so they can suggest alternative proposals.
  3. A genuine consultation process must be held.

We hope that UCL will attempt to resolve this matter in a way that does not impact the livelihoods of some of the most vulnerable members of UCL, who have also been those at the frontline during this pandemic.



Outsourced Workers at UCL need your help!

Outsourced workers at UCL are fighting for equality. Security officers, cleaners, porters and catering staff across UCL are united and determined to fight to end the scourge of outsourcing and win justice, equality and dignity for all workers at UCL.

In September, outsourced workers at UCL launched our campaign to fight for equality and end outsourcing at UCL. Over the last 9 months we have achieved a lot through this campaign – including sick pay, improved annual leave, improved pay. This has already made a huge change to our lives.🙌

We have had to fight to win each of these improvements – by speaking out, by protesting, by going on strike. But we still do not have equality and we are still outsourced.

When the Coronavirus pandemic began and the country went into lockdown, our campaign to end outsourcing was put on hold. Many of us outsourced workers remained on site, while everyone else was told to stay home.

We were always planning to resume our campaign once the lockdown was over, but our mistreatment by UCL and its subcontractors during this crisis has only made us more committed to our goal of achieving equality and ending outsourcing.

Now, We need YOUR help!

We are rebooting our campaign to end outsourcing at UCL and we are asking all those who support us to sign the petition below and send a letter to the UCL Council to let them know about the situation faced by outsourced workers and what we are demanding.

Despite the promises of bringing equality to the long neglected and mistreated outsourced workforce, UCL continues to drag its feet and refuses to take meaningful steps to ensure the equality that was promised, denying outsourced workers dencet pay, pensions and parental leave.


Dozens of outsourced workers continue to be employed on zero hours contracts, putting them in an extremely precarious and vulnerable position. Since lat year we have seen a sharp increase in the use of these contracts. UCL must ban zero hours contracts


The promised equality in pay has been a big disappointment to the outsourced workforce who have not seen their role as “Key Workers” during this pandemic being recognised from a financial perspective and instead remain the worst paid workers on campus

Outsourced workers are, and have always been “key workers.” We are a core part of this institution. The university’s academic endeavours are only made possible thanks to our hard work. We deserve to be given a valued place within the #UCL community and dignified conditions.


UCL uses a system that systematically discriminates against BAME workers, depriving us of basic rights and placing us under the management of companies who see us as nothing but disposable labour.This situation illuminates a shameful racism at the heart of UCL

If the pandemic should have taught us something it is that not only are outsourced workers a fundamental pillar of UCL, but also how precarity and outsourcing seriously endanger the life and wellbeing of the mostly migrant BAME key workers at the frontline of this crisis.

Despite recent concessions, UCL continues to refuse to end outsourcing:

Sign the petition and demand @ucl to:

  • Immediately end outsourcing
  • Ban zero hour contracts at UCL
  • Enter into immediate negotiations with UCL’s outsourced workers and their chosen trade unions.

It is time to end outsourcing!

Help us, sign and share the petition:

& share our social media posts:


We demand”Hazard Pay” for Key Workers at University of London — May 19, 2020

We demand”Hazard Pay” for Key Workers at University of London

The majority of University of London staff are working remotely. In this context, it could be easy to forget that some members of staff are still travelling in and working onsite in an extremely difficult context. These workers are providing an essential service in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. They are making an incredible effort, particularly considering the risks they have taken on since the beginning of the crisis.

Workers who have been able to work from home are only able to do this because of those continuing to go onto campus. Now that there is talk of returning to work, the roles these workers play in our university will become even more important. Keeping the site clean, operating, and secure will become increasingly risky as other members of staff come back on to campus.

These are frontline workers facing an unprecedented level of risk, way beyond their job descriptions. These risks should be compensated.

We demand hazard pay for all workers on site at the University of London.  Therefore please sign our letter of support:

Please also share your support on social media!

Thank you!

IWGB demands for key workers at the University of London during the Covid-19 emergency — April 16, 2020

IWGB demands for key workers at the University of London during the Covid-19 emergency

IWGB wrote to University of London’s Vice Chancellor with a series of demands for all essential workers who continue to work at University of London during the current Covid-19 emergency:

Dear Wendy Thomson

Despite the current pandemic, security staff are currently working at University of London and cleaners continue to service the Halls of Residence.

With the majority of UoL staff working remotely it could be easy to forget that some members of staff are still travelling in and working onsite in an extremely delicate and exceptional context.  

Taking into account the incredible effort these workers are making and having consulted our members we write to present a series of demands:

  • Given the circumstances and the current risks faced, anyone attending work must do so on a voluntary basis.
  • University of London will introduce a “hazard rate” for all those key workers who continue to work on site during the duration of the pandemic; (this in line with other Universities and Public institutions)
  • Those volunteering to attend work during the current period will receive an enhanced pay rate for the hours worked on site, namely double the normal hourly rate (£21.5)
  • Those who have worked on site since the government announcement of lockdown on 21st MARCH will received backdated pay of the hours worked at the mentioned rate
  • The health and safety requirements are that full PPE will be provided, small teams will be used to allow for social distancing and a rota will be deployed to ensure cleaners will only attend site once a week

Key workers are facing exceptional challenges in these times, and the cleaners and security officers at University of London are no exception. They continue to attend work, while the rest of us are advised not to venture out. The work they do, and the risks they are currently taking, must be recognised and compensated.

We believe that University of London will adopt a responsible position in these circumstances and acknowledge the invaluable role that key workers such as security officers and cleaners are playing during the current pandemic.

Kind Regards

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:

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 & VC with the following:


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: &

 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.


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.

Dr Jamie Woodcock
Branch SecretaryUniversity of London IWGB