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.