UCL CAMPAIGN GENERAL MEETING of Cleaners & Porters — February 4, 2020


On 8 October 2019, IWGB launched the UCL End Outsourcing Campaign. Since then, we have achieved many things: outsourcing has been brought to light at UCL and our strikes have led to immediate improvements to our terms and conditions.

Moreover, we have achieved a unity and solidarity among workers never seen at UCL. These past few months have consolidated the IWGB as union at UCL and shown UCL’s cleaners and porters have the strenght to bring change.

However, much remains to be done. UCL’S promises of improvement are a good sign, but they are not enough. We have a lot to accomplish before us:

  1. We must continue to fight for a decent salary
  2. We need to fight for the elimination of zero hour contracts
  3. We must ensure that sick pay is confirmed and implemented
  4. and the most fundamental: we will continue to fight for the IN-HOUSE!

On Saturday 8 February, come to our campaign meeting to discuss these demands and decide the strategy of our campaign.

This is your oppotunity to define the direction of our campaign and of the IWGB at UCL.

You decide the next steps of this campaign! You are the union!

New Year, Same Old incompetence: UCL’S security subcontractor, Axis, fails to pay thousands of pounds in wages. — January 10, 2020

New Year, Same Old incompetence: UCL’S security subcontractor, Axis, fails to pay thousands of pounds in wages.

In November 2019, UCL promised al Security Officers an improvements in the holiday entitlement. UCL said this would be implemented by 1 December 2019. This would include an increase in days of annual leave + paid closure days and bank holidays.

However, on January 6 the majority of Security Officers working at UCL reported the failure of Axis to pay their wages for closure days.

It has been admitted by  Axis that management failed to notify their payroll department properly to make the payment, deducting thousand of pounds from ALL security officers at UCL. Yet another example of the incompetence of outsourced companies.

IWGB-UoL’S branch secretary has written to UCL to demand immediate payment:

To whom it may concern,

On 6 January 2020, a number of security officers working at UCL reported the failure of UCL’s subcontractor Axis to pay their wages as per the changes adopted on 1 December 2019 (payment of closure days for those not working and payment at double rate for those working during closure days).

The mentioned changes have not been reflected in the wages paid this month. This has been further confirmed in an email from Anna Knight where she states “we have experienced a syncing issue with the system which therefore may lead to pay queries tomorrow regarding your pay day 7th January 2020”.

Please note that this error made by Axis has resulted in the unlawful deduction of wages from all security officers employed by Axis on the UCL contract who have not received any pay for the closure, or double pay (if they worked), as per the letter of variation of their contracts received by security officers in mid-December.

This shows not only that the changes announced by UCL as per the harmonisation of terms and conditions have not been implemented, but it also constitutes further evidence of the utter incompetence of the security contractor at UCL. All this after weeks of silence from Axis, where they did not even bother to inform their workforce of how these changes would take effect, and avoided all questions raised regarding this until two weeks after the deadline for implementation of the changes. This is despite the numerous emails sent by our union requesting clarification and dialogue regarding the plans.

It is frankly astounding that UCL continue to tolerate the incompetence of this subcontractor and their unlawful practices. These repeated failures only make it clearer that the system of outsourcing at UCL results in incompetence and failure, harming those precariously employed under such contracts.

We urge UCL to take immediate action regarding this matter to ensure that all the Security Officers at UCL receive correct payment no later than 13 January 2020 by close of business.

Should Axis fail to pay these wages we will not hesitate to initiate legal proceedings to recover them.

Furthermore, we urge UCL to take seriously the demands made by the majority of the outsourced workforce to be brought in-house. We urge UCL to meet with the representatives of the IWGB union and to quickly implement an end to outsourcing to ensure further mistakes of this nature are avoided in future.

Please acknowledge receipt of this email.

Kind Regards,

Dr Jamie Woodcock

#JusticeForStan: University of London and its contractor Bouygues deduct £5000 sick pay from employee who had heart attack while on duty — December 3, 2019

#JusticeForStan: University of London and its contractor Bouygues deduct £5000 sick pay from employee who had heart attack while on duty

The IWGB has been forced to intervene in the case of Stanford Jackson, an engineer who has worked at the University of London for 18 years and who suffered a heart attack while on duty.

Mr Jackson suffered a heart attack on 7 September 2019 whilst on callout duty at College Hall.

Mr Jackson, currently employed by Bouygues, has worked at the University of London for 18 years, having been TUPE transferred across a variety of different contractors. He is well known across the many UoL sites as a vastly experienced and popular member of staff.

Since his heart attack, Mr Jackson has been recuperating at home, and is only now starting to return to work.

One might have thought that this traumatic and life-threatening incident was bad enough, but worse was to come, as on Mr Jackson’s October payslip he was notified that there would be a deduction of over £5000 pounds from his wages, with the justification given for this being that he is only entitled to 4 weeks paid sick leave!

This is a truly outrageous situation, given that:

i) Bouygues’ decision is based on what they admit to be utterly incomplete records of Mr Jackson’s previous contractual arrangements, which do not even stretch back to his original contract.

ii) Bouygues are ignoring the fact that the University of London enhanced terms and conditions for outsourced workers supersede any other inferior sick pay or holiday conditions. All outsourced staff of Mr Jackson’s length of service are entitled to 6 months sick leave on full pay.

iii) Mr Jackson’s heart attack occurred in the workplace and while he was performing his duties.

Any other worker at the University would be paid in these circumstances. Mr Jackson has given 18 years and almost his life to the University, and for the buck to be passed between Bouygues and the University of London while he feels a huge financial pressure to return to work prematurely is shameful for all concerned.

Both Mr Jackson and the IWGB have already raised this on numerous occasions, but with no satisfactory response. Last week the matter was brought to the attention of Vice Chancellor Wendy Thomson (who has just made the decision to continue the outsourcing of the UoL maintenance contract), but still no reply has been received and no money paid.

The IWGB will continue to escalate this matter until justice has been done, and in the meantime we urge all members and supporters to contact wendy.thomson@london.ac.uk and ask for #JusticeforStan.

Major concession announced at UCL, Campaign and Strike continue until full Victory! — November 29, 2019

Major concession announced at UCL, Campaign and Strike continue until full Victory!

On 28 November UCL announced more information about improvements to outsourced workers’ terms and conditions:

  1. UCL has confirmed outsourced workers will receive increased holiday entitlement from 1 December 2019.
  2. 2. Next term, UCL will begin negotiations with UNISON over improving pay and they will implement improved pay on 1 April 2020.
  3. UCL will give 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

This is very good news: IWGB Outsourced workers are winning.

It is the outsourced workers who made this happen:

  1. For years workers have been complaining about conditions at UCL, but since they united and showed UCL they will not put up with this any longer UCL have started to pay attention.
  2. In October, outsourced workers threatened to launch a campaign and immediately UCL announced they will look into improving terms and conditions.
  3. In November, outsourced workers went on strike and right after that UCL announced they will firm up the timeline for improvements.

However, there are some very important points that are missing from UCL’s announcement today:

  1. UCL do not say what will happen with pay. They say WHEN it will be implemented (April 2020). But not WHAT pay grade outsourced workers will get.
  2. There is no guarantee from UCL that the outsourced workers will get a good deal. UCL could put them anywhere from pay grade 3 upwards. Getting the right pay deal will depend on the workers maintaining pressure on UCL.
  3. UCL’s announcement does not yet mention a timeline for other benefits such as pensions and parental leave. Parity means nothing without such rights!
  4. It does not give any commitment to ending outsourcing. Ending outsourcing is important to lock in everything so that other cowboy subcontractors cannot come along in 2 years time and cut their terms again. We need to get rid of the exploitative and abusive subcontractors now.

UCL is trying to persuade the outsourced workers to take their foot off the pedal. But now is the time to increase the pressure and FINISH THE JOB.

This announcement is the result of the campaign. Let’s see what else we can get UCL to announce before the New Year!

Our STRIKE on Dec 4th goes ahead and our campaign continues until full VICTORY

The power is ours!

UCL-UCU & IWGB joint Strike on December 4th —

UCL-UCU & IWGB joint Strike on December 4th

The 4th of December at UCL will see the first ever combined strike of directly employed and outsourced workers in the history of higher education!

The outsourced workers at UCL, including security staff, cleaners and porters are fighting to end the inequality and discrimination of outsourcing. As part of the IWGB union, they have called their second day of strike action on 4 December, demanding that UCL end outsourcing and bring them back in house.

The lecturers and professional services staff in the UCU union are having their eighth and last day of a round of national strikes over pensions, falling pay, gender and ethnicity pay gaps, precarious employment, and overloaded workloads.

At UCL we will be making history by combining the struggles of workers across the UCL workforce. It is one of the richest universities in the world, yet for years they have exploited both their directly employed and outsourced workers.

We are one university and one workforce and we demand justice!

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1019488945054547/

Biggest strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history to happen on Tuesday 19 November — November 15, 2019

Biggest strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history to happen on Tuesday 19 November

On 19 November, Outsourced workers at University College London (UCL) will be on Strike to end discriminatory outsourcing.

300 outsourced cleaners, porters and security officers at UCL have voted 98% YES to take strike action. And the first strike will take place on Tuesday 19 November for 24 hours.

Despite UCL being one of the richest universities in the world, they continue to treat outsourced workers like second class workers

Outsourced workers, the majority of whom are migrants or from ethnic minorities, receive worse sick pay, pension, holiday pay and parental leave than in-house colleague

While direct employees of UCL can receive up to 26 weeks of pay when they are off sick, outsourced workers are on the statutory minimum. This means they receive no pay on the first three days they are off sick, after which they are entitled to just £94.25 a week. This forces many to work while sick or injured, rather than risk losing a day’s pay. (See comparisons of other conditions in notes below)

For years UCL management have turned a blind eye to the exploitation of the outsourced workforce and ignored us when we raised complaints.

This is why hundreds of outsourced cleaners, porters and security officers have united in the IWGB union and launched a campaign on 7 October to demand UCL act now to End Outsourcing.

But after launching our campaign, UCL are still refusing to negotiate with the workers or commit to serious changes. Our members at UCL are left with no alternative but to go on strike. If UCL refuse to treat them with even the most basic respect of coming to the table and listening to our demands, then we have no option but to take action.

Outsourced workers at UCL are sending a clear message to UCL’s management that this is not good enough. The time for action from UCL is now. It is time for UCL to End Outsourcing and to bring all outsourced workers in-house on equal terms and conditions to other university staff.

Join us on the picket line Tuesday 19 November!

Join and show your solidarity on the picket line from 7:30am!

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1276558202531488/

Support Us!

To win this campaign we need everyone to be able to take part in the strike – especially those who might not be able to afford it. It is only through everyone taking part that our strike will be effective. And for that we need to be able to offer strike pay to help make up for some of the lost earnings of those workers who need it most

Please donate to our strike hardship fund:

Thank you & see you on the picket line!

Hundreds of UCL cleaners, porters and security to vote on strike action over pay and conditions — November 6, 2019

Hundreds of UCL cleaners, porters and security to vote on strike action over pay and conditions

9 October: The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is to ballot cleaners, porters and security officers for strike action at London’s largest university, UCL, in what could be the biggest strike ever of outsourced workers in UK higher education history.

The IWGB will be balloting almost 300 workers over their terms and conditions, as part of the union’s campaign, launched yesterday (8 October), to end outsourcing and zero hours contracts at UCL. The strike ballot will specifically demand the outsourcing companies that manage the security contract, Axis, and the cleaning contract, Sodexo, put cleaners, porters and security officers on the same terms and conditions as UCL’s direct employees. The results of the ballot are expected on 5 November.

Outsourced workers receive worse sick pay, pension, holiday pay, and parental leave than their in-house colleagues. They are also more likely to suffer from bullying and discrimination than directly employed workers.

Specifically, while direct employees can receive up to 26 weeks of pay when they are off sick, outsourced workers are on the statutory minimum, which means that they get no pay on the first three days they are off sick, after which they are entitled to £94.25 a week. This means that many workers chose to work while sick, rather than risk losing a day’s pay. (See comparisons of other conditions in notes below)

IWGB University of London branch chair and former UCL cleaner Maritza Castillo Calle said: “UCL would not be able to function without its cleaners, porters and security officers, however for years the university and its contractors have been happy to treat them like second class workers. They are overworked, underpaid and mistreated, while UCL is happy to look the other way when issues are raised about the abject failure of its contractors to treat people with basic dignity. We gave UCL a clear deadline by which to present a plan to end outsourcing which it failed to abide by. Now we are left with no option but to strike.”

Over the last year the IWGB has also documented a number of severe management failures and discriminatory practices by the outsourcing companies.

The IWGB brought complaints on behalf of 30 Axis security officers that were owed over £15,000, when the company failed to properly pay their holiday pay over a period of three months, between December and February. Following these formal complaints by the University of London branch secretary, the money was paid, but there have been other instances of non-payment of holiday pay since.

In March, Sodexo tried to introduce a biometric time management system, which would require cleaners, the vast majority of whom are migrant workers, to have their fingerprints scanned when logging in and out of work. Following a collective grievance, and protests by the IWGB and its members, the introduction of this discriminatory system to monitor workers was called off.

In September, the IWGB launched a collective grievance on behalf of 30 cleaners and porters who complain that managers assign them an excessive amount of work, resulting in significant levels of exhaustion and stress. Attempts by management to further increase these workloads have so far been stopped by the intervention of IWGB reps.

You can donate to the Strike fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/ucl-outsourced-workers-strike-fund

Notes to Editors:

  • Conditions of outsourced workers vs direct employees
  • Sick pay: outsourced workers are on statutory sick pay, while direct employees are entitled to up to 26 weeks of fully paid sick pay, depending on length of service.
  • Holiday pay: outsourced workers are entitled to as little as the statutory minimum of 28 holiday days, including bank holidays. Direct employees get a total of 41 days, including 27 days of annual leave, 8 bank holidays and 6 closure days.
  • Parental leave: outsourced workers are only entitled to the statutory maternity leave, while direct employees get 18 weeks full pay (or 9 weeks full pay and 18 weeks half pay) statutory maternity pay.
  • Pensions: Outsourced security officers and some cleaners get a 3% employer pension contribution, while direct employees get enrolled into the SAUL pension scheme with up to 19.5% employer pension contribution.
  • On 16 September, the IWGB gave UCL a three week deadline (7 October) by which to publicly commit to end outsourcing or engage in good faith negotiations with that end.
  • Previously, the biggest strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education took place in 25 and 26 April 2018. More info here and here.
  • Sodexo and Axis took over the cleaning/portering and security contracts, respectively in November 2018.
  • UCL has 42,100 students according to its website. It is the biggest university in London and the third biggest in the UK, by number of students, according to the HESA.
  • Following a separate campaign launched in September 2017, the IWGB won a commitment by the University of London (Central Administration) to bring outsourced workers in-house in July 2018. Since then, only 10% of the workers have been brought in-house, and a boycott of the university is ongoing until there are concrete plans for the insourcing of the remaining 90%.
  • In 2013, following the landmark 3 Cosas Campaign, the IWGB won improved sick pay and holiday pay for outsourced workers at the University of London (Central Administration).

Following UoL’s announcement of dates of in-sourcing, outsourced workers’ Reps give conditions under which Boycott can be called off. — October 28, 2019

Following UoL’s announcement of dates of in-sourcing, outsourced workers’ Reps give conditions under which Boycott can be called off.

On Friday the University of London announced that it would bring security officers in-house in May 2020 and cleaners in-house in November 2020. This is a welcome development and a vindication of the strategy chosen by the outsourced workers of combining strikes with a boycott of the university’s events.

This would have been impossible without your steadfast support, which was unflinching even in the face of several attempts by university management and others to spread misinformation.

However, the need to keep pressure on the university is now more important than ever. So far, no details have been given on what kinds of contracts the university will give the workers. This is an issue of huge importance, since the contracts that were negotiated for the receptionists that were brought in-house in May 2019, behind their backs and behind the back of their chosen trade union, the IWGB, have led to a number of problems.

In the first two months following the introduction of these contracts, seven of the twelve in-sourced receptionists brought grievances against the university, in large part as a result of the terms that were negotiated by third parties that had no mandate from the workers to negotiate on their behalf.

The issues that the workers have raised, some of which form part of formal grievances, are:

  • As a result of the new contracts, receptionists are being moved to different buildings and given different shift patterns on different days, even though previously they were based in one reception, some of them for as long as twenty years.
  • One receptionist had to take several weeks off sick from stress as a result of the university’s attempts to move her, without her consent, out of the place where she had worked for over six years and to another building – a clear breach of TUPE legislation. The university’s justification was that, off the back of the negotiations, it was decided that the hours that she once did now belonged to the outsourcing company, Cordant, which would provide their own staff.
  • Another receptionist, who needs to take breaks at specific times due to the fact he suffers from diabetes, has nearly fainted on several occasions because of changes to shift and break patterns meant no cover was available when he had to take time off.
  • Failure of the university to properly staff one of its receptions, leading to significant overwork for the one remaining receptionist.
  • Failure of the university to properly staff the Post Room following the resignation of a worker, leading to significant overwork for the remaining staff.

While some of these issues are unlawful (breach of TUPE regulations) and if not resolved could result in legal action by IWGB, it would have been preferable for the workers to have been represented in the in-housing talks, so that these issues could have been avoided altogether.

Therefore, being aware of the way the first wave of in-sourcing was handled, we would be failing our members in our duty as their chosen trade union, if we were to drop significant forms of leverage prior to seeing the actual contracts that our members will be asked to sign.

It is also wholly unreasonable that the security officers are being brought in-house six whole months before cleaners, and that gardeners, many of whom have taken a number of days of strike action, are being completely excluded from the deal.

For these reasons, the elected security, cleaning and gardening reps, have agreed that, as a gesture of goodwill, they are happy to call off the campaign and the boycott if two conditions are met:

  1. That there is an agreement that security staff, cleaners and gardeners are brought in-house by May 2020.
  2. That the elected IWGB security, cleaning and gardening reps, in consultation with the membership and their union, review and sign off on the contracts that will be presented to the members.

We are closer than ever to securing a fair deal for the cleaners and security officers that for so many years have been ignored by university management and others. With your continued support of the boycott we are certain to achieve that.

IWGB STATEMENT on UCL’s announcement of commitment to parity of terms and conditions — October 23, 2019

IWGB STATEMENT on UCL’s announcement of commitment to parity of terms and conditions


On 21 OCTOBER UCL announced its commitment to give outsourced workers the same Annual Leave entitlements as direct employees, starting in December this year. This is good news and a good first step. From December outsourced workers should now receive 27 days + 6 Closure days + public holidays. This is the result of the pressure of the IWGB campaign. UCL have also said they are committed to levelling up all pay and benefits for outsourced workers to an equal level with direct employees by August 2021. Finally, there is no mention of ending outsourcing and bringing all outsourced workers in-house. In-housing would be a significant improvement on parity of terms and conditions

UCL has claimed that this announcement has come as a result of constructive negotiations with the outsourced staff. However, this concession has only happened in the context of an ongoing ballot where 300 outsourced workers, members of the IWGB, are currently voting in favour of strike action.

We would therefore like to provide some insights regarding UCL’s recent announcement:

  • It comes 2 weeks after 300 outsourced workers, members of the IWGB, decided to launch a campaign to end outsourcing at UCL. The day after the launch of their campaign on 8 October the workers sent a formal notice of Strike Ballot to UCL and the subcontractors Axis and Sodexo and initiated an intense social media and public campaign that involved public speeches, flyering, videos and a petition. It is the powerful campaign by the outsourced security officers, cleaners and porters at UCL in the IWGB union that has ended UCL’s years of silence on this issue. UCL can no longer neglect and ignore the workers that make it possible for UCL to open its doors every day.
  • These concessions are nothing but a sign that UCL is cracking under pressure, mainly as a consequence of potentially facing the biggest strike of outsourced higher education workers in the history of the UK.
  • Despite this, UCL has not once opened up discussions with the workers themselves and they have so far refused to negotiate with the IWGB union, which represents the vast majority of the security staff and hundreds of cleaners and porters at UCL.  In failing to do so, UCL are excluding the outsourced workers and treating them with extreme disrespect. Which is no surprise considering that UCL has treated them like second class workers for all these years. UCL’s pretend claims that they have consulted and negotiated with the outsourced workforce have no basis in fact.

UCL cannot continue to ignore the outsourced workers. They will learn the perils of doing so when the majority of the workforce goes on strike after not being listened to and their time for negotiations runs out.

  • The announcement gives no serious guarantees and no clear timetable for delivery. Years ago when UCL announced that they would introduce the living wage for UCL staff within a year, they ended up dilly dallying for 5 years before it was delivered. Empty PR statements are no substitute for concrete action or for firm commitments with clear deadlines. UCL has said they will act within 22 months by August 2021. UCL is one of the richest universities in the country and has the resources to deliver parity of terms and conditions within several months should they choose to. The outsourced workers are clear that 2 years is not good enough. It is patently an attempt to kick this issue into the long grass.
  • What is more, the announcement does not mention the end of outsourcing, which has been the central demand raised by the outsourced workers. Ending outsourcing is significantly different to just parity of terms and conditions. We require the removal of the incompetent and exploitative subcontractors under which UCL has allowed the outsourced workforce to suffer for over a decade. The IWGB has a clear position: Outsourced workers demand full equality which can only be delivered by ENDING OUTSOURCING.

Taking into consideration the above, we would like to express our determination to continue to fight until FULL EQUALITY is given to all outsourced workers at UCL and the outsourced workers are brought back in-house.

We once again extend an invitation to UCL and encourage its management to find another way forward: Commit to end outsourcing and to sit down and negotiate with the outsourced workers and their representatives.

Until then, the struggle continues!

See you on the picket line UCL