IWGB queries ULIA Departmental ‘reviews’ — September 21, 2017

IWGB queries ULIA Departmental ‘reviews’

Catherine has given this update on the ULIA Departmental ‘reviews’ – if you’ve got any questions, get in touch!

Just a quick update on a recent issue ongoing in ULIA, but which sets a disturbing trend we want to avoid…

Recently, senior management in ULIA, supported by HR, got a consultant in to do a ‘review’ of a particular directorate within the department. The claim was that it was about efficiency. As a result of this review, we now understand that there will be major changes to the directorate and senior management are currently refusing to share the full report with staff.

IWGB has made clear that such reviews should never be used to circumvent the usual process of consultation and we are pushing for staff to be given all the information. See our latest email to them below.

This isn’t the first time a review like this has been used in this way – causing huge stress to staff and avoiding proper consultation with them about major changes to their work. We know that other departments in ULIA are scheduled to undergo the same process and will continue to pressure management because this is totally unacceptable!

If anyone needs our support, or if this is happening elsewhere in the University, please let us know.

Low pay, long hours: The life of an outsourced worker at the University of London — September 18, 2017
John McDonnell writes to Adrian Smith! — September 13, 2017
IWGB launches new campaign to bring UoL workers back in house! — September 12, 2017

IWGB launches new campaign to bring UoL workers back in house!

With the launch of a new campaign to bring the University of London’s outsourced workers back in-house, our General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee has written to Adrian Smith, Vice-Chancellor of the University of London. The full text is below. Our first strike date is Wednesday 27 September – please consider supporting us by donating to our strike fund!

Dear Professor Sir Adrian Smith,
I am writing in my capacity as General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) to notify you that we are today launching a campaign to bring the University of London’s outsourced workers back in house.
When we started organizing at UoL in Spring of 2011 (first in Unison then in IWGB), the situation for outsourced workers was somewhat akin to the Wild West: the contractor didn’t appear aware of the existence of employment law, cleaners were sacked without due process, workers’ wages routinely went unpaid, even when cleaners were paid the correct amount was only a hare above the minimum wage at £6.15 per hour, the workers had no pensions, and had the statutory minimums for holidays and sick pay.
As you know, things have changed quite dramatically since then, albeit no thanks to you.
After a number of employment tribunal claims, and loads of grievances, we have been able to educate the ignoramuses masquerading as proper contractors in the basics of employment law. In 2011/12 we won the London Living Wage campaign. As part of that campaign victory the University of London promised to maintain the pay differentials among different outsourced workers so that all workers would get a roughly proportionally equal pay rise. In the summer of 2012 we then launched the 3 Cosas Campaign which a year and a half later went on to win improvements in sick pay, holidays, and pensions for outsourced staff. It is important to note that in both of these campaigns we targeted the University of London, not your contractor. And in both examples it was the University of London- not the contractor who paid for the improved wages and terms and conditions.
Today we are back to finish the job once and for all. We are no longer prepared to accept that you have one class of workers receiving grossly inferior pay, treatment, and terms and conditions. The only way to end these injustices is to bring your outsourced staff back in house so that they benefit from the same payroll and HR departments, the same maternity pay, the same pensions, sick pay, and holidays, and the same standards of management as those found at the University of London. This type of security,
decency, and fairness will not be found by using the incompetent contractors you routinely use. We therefore call on the University of London to immediately:
1. Bring the outsourced workers back in house;
2. Reinstate the pay differentials promised to the outsourced workers with appropriate back pay;
3. Ban 0 hours contracts at the university.
We of course remain open to dialogue and negotiations on these matters. However, given that at every past opportunity you have chosen the masochistic path to defeat by ignoring your workers’ demands until they had exerted enough public pressure to force you into humiliating backpedaling and concessions, we can only assume you will do the same this time. So let me take this opportunity to be perfectly clear about what will follow should you choose to ignore these reasonable demands:
1. We will build support for the campaign among other trade unions, politicians, NGO’s and other organisations. Indeed you can expect public letters from a number of them in the coming days calling on you to accept the workers’ demands.
2. We will publicise on social media the ills of outsourcing and the stories of the workers who suffer the consequences of not enough holiday, sick pay, and maternity pay.
3. We will make and distribute videos where workers and supporters articulate the exploitation of being outsourced at the University of London. For the first video, released today, see here.
4. We will be contacting press to tell them about the two tier workforce at University of London, where predominantly BAME migrant workers are on one set of terms and conditions and work without the respect of the university, and another set of predominantly white British workers operate in the same building but a different world. For today’s press release, see here.
5. We will be holding protests. Indeed the first one will be on the 27th of September, and should see a few hundred people outside Senate House.
6. The outsourced workers will be going on strike over their various demands. Indeed also on the 27th some of the outsourced workers will be striking over the pay issue on the back of a 100% YES vote.
7. We will be flyering University of London events to inform the public of the university’s exploitative practices.
Although you may not be able to admit this publicly, I think privately at least you will have to admit that we are bound to win this campaign. Not only has the IWGB already beaten UoL in the major breakthrough that was the 3 Cosas victory, as well as in the tribunals, but momentum and history are now on our side.
After the decisions of the London School of Economics (LSE) and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) to bring their cleaners back in house after similar campaigns, I fear you will struggle to justify the exploitation that is outsourcing to the rest of the University of London community and to the public.
Now given that you must be a pretty smart guy (otherwise why would UoL pay you more than £170k a year?) maybe just take a minute to think this one through. Do you want to bring workers in house, pay them what you promised them, and end the absurdity of 0 hours contracts now? Or would you prefer to do so after the University’s reputation is dragged through the mud yet again?
Thank you very much in advance for your consideration.
Kind regards,
Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
Ps. In case you want to ease some of your guilt and are looking for a good investment for that fat salary of yours, why not chuck a few quid into the strike fund?


UoL implements 1.7% pay rise – ICE forum volunteers needed! — August 17, 2017

UoL implements 1.7% pay rise – ICE forum volunteers needed!

You may have seen on the Intranet that the national pay negotiations have concluded and the national unions (including UCU and Unison) have accepted the final offer of a 1.7% pay rise. This will therefore be implemented from 1 August and will appear in our August salary.

As in previous years, we feel that this offer is completely inadequate but, as all of the nationally-negotiating unions have already accepted it, we will not be taking action to oppose it. We will instead be sure to start the campaign for a better pay rise next year in earnest!

This also seems like a good time to say that the University will be required to start taking action to create the ICE forum very shortly and we need you to volunteer to be representatives! While we may be unable to negotiate pay at a national level, we can use the ICE forum to vocalise our opposition to the continued below par offers, which can in turn impact on national negotiations! We therefore need the ICE forum to have some real teeth and be filled with as many IWGB members as possible!!!

Please get in touch with Rebecca if you would be interested in becoming an ICE representative!

UoL replies to IWGB’s asbestos questions — August 16, 2017

UoL replies to IWGB’s asbestos questions

Kim Frost has replied to IWGB’s questions about asbestos in University of London buildings. The full reply is below. If you’ve got any additional concerns, please get in touch with Danny.

Dear Danny,

I am sorry that absence from the office has meant my reply has come later than I would normally have hoped. You have asked a number of questions and I’ll address each in turn:

  1. That the University provide a full asbestos management plan 

The asbestos management plan has been amended and updated.  The draft will be submitted for review and approval by the Health and Safety Committee which is scheduled to meet on the 25th September 2017.  Members’ comments will be  incorporated and the final version of the plan will be published on the intranet once finally approved by the Committee. A copy will also be provided to relevant UoL and Bouygues staff.

  1. That the University (as promised in February) provide a fully accessible and up to date asbestos survey database 

We have now collated all existing surveys into one location and the University’s Compliance Manager, as well as Bouygues managers are able to access this information when needed. Asbestos surveyors are currently being appointed to resurvey the entire estates to ensure accuracy of our records,. Once this work is complete a full web based data base will become available.

In the meantime, and to manage any risks of exposure, all works to any part of the estate by any contractor, which requires intervention with the fabric of any of the buildings, is being managed through the helpdesk. A protocol is in place to ensure that the Compliance Manager reviews and approves works, confirming status of asbestos surveys of the affected area before any work is carried out.

  1. That the University arrange for a full medical examination and scan for all employees who wish it 

The University will arrange for individual referrals to Occupational Health.  University of London and Bouygues staff should contact Claire Westgate and Rachel Harris (HR Department, University of London) if they would like a referral to be arranged.  Where the Occupational Health report recommends a follow-up x-ray/scan, and it is not possible to obtain this within a clinically appropriate timeframe, the University will arrange for this to take place privately.

Contact details for HR:

Claire Westgate          Rachel Harris

  1. That the University commission an independent review into the handling of this issue 

The University has engaged with independent advisors and specialists since we became aware of this matter.  Martin Stear BSc DipOH CFFOH (Chartered Occupational Hygienist) has attended the University on two occasions (December 2016 and July 2017) to provide briefings and 1:1 sessions with University of London and Bouygues staff.  Following the briefing with Martin Stear on 20th July, the University will be setting up a Compliance sub-group. This sub-group will be responsible for the governance of compliance matters across the University, including the management of asbestos. It will report to Health and Safety Committee and its membership will include Trade Union representatives from UCU and Unison, UoL staff representatives and representatives from Bouygues and other contractors as appropriate.  The terms of reference of this sub-group will be drawn up over the coming weeks and the first meeting will be arranged for the start of the academic year.

  1. That the University provide compensation for the stress and potential health and safety impact of this exposure produced by their negligence 

University of London members of staff have access to the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) through the staff benefits portal.  The EAP can provide confidential legal advice should anyone wish to discuss any individual circumstances or concerns.  The University has arranged for members of staff from Bouygues to also be able to contact the University’s EAP helpline. Contact details will be provided through Greg Hayman. The University does not accept that it has been negligent in respect of the management of University buildings.

  1. That the University contact ALL potentially affected ex-employees as soon as possible 

The University has received advice that it is reasonable for the University to focus contact on current employees and contractors at this time.  However, the University’s records include all those who we know are likely to have been exposed and should we be contacted by ex-employees in relation to this matter then we will share the information and advice that we have received.

  1. That the University immediately close and seal off the Student Central pool area 

The pool area is closed and sealed off.  Where access is still permitted, the University can confirm that this is because it is safe to do so.  No members of staff are being asked to work in any unsafe areas; a review of the estate has been carried out and any unsafe areas have been locked down with access only permitted to those who have had the appropriate training.

Best wishes


End Precarious Labour! Demonstrate against Uber / support UoL outsoruced workers, 27 September — August 14, 2017

End Precarious Labour! Demonstrate against Uber / support UoL outsoruced workers, 27 September

The IWGB is planning a big precarious labour bonanza march through central London in September!

On the 27th of September Uber will be appealing last year’s Employment Tribunal decision which awarded ‘worker’ status to Uber drivers. The lead claimants in this case are members of the IWGB. We are going to march through central London to the Employment Appeal Tribunal in support of our members and all Uber drivers, and to show ‘gig economy’ bosses, the courts and the British public that we will not lie down as our employment rights are taken away!

On the same day at the University of London security officers, porters and postroom staff will be staging their next strike action – and the march will culminate back on the picket line at the University!

Expect music, dancing, shouting, banners, workers and supporters.

All forms of precarious labour – Deliveroo drivers, outsourced cleaners, researchers, those on zero-hour contracts, foster carers – are invited to come out and unite for Precarious Labour Strikes Back!

A recent report estimated that up to 10 million Britons are in insecure work. The way that ‘gig economy’ companies like Uber and Deliveroo withold employment rights from their workers is only one part of this. More and more of us find ourselves with little to no employment protections and lower real wages: uniting behind Uber drivers is a way of strengthening the fight back!

Facebook event here

Download the flyer here [PDF]

A sponsored walk for the IWGB Legal Department —

A sponsored walk for the IWGB Legal Department

A group from the IWGB are going to be walking the Thames on the 28th of October to raise funds for the IWGB legal department. This event is part of the London Legal Support Trust’s (LLST) Thames Walk which takes place on the 28th of October 2017. Last year, organising at the last minute, an IWGB team of five walkers managed to raise £3,000 in sponsorship for our legal centre. This year we can raise more!

We want more members to sign up for the walk, and/or sponsor us. We’ve set up a Virgin Giving page (for which LLST handles all the administration and charges no fee) and all the money raised goes back to the IWGB legal centre.


You can pledge money there, and there are also paper sponsorship forms available.

If you would like to take part in the walk, then write to Joe Trapido, (joetrapido@iwgb.org.uk). If you want paper sponsorship forms I can get them for you as well (though it is easier for you to use the Virgin Giving page as it will collect the money automatically after the walk). You can walk or cycle and you can do the full 26 miles or you can do half the distance, starting in the morning at London Bridge or in the afternoon at Putney.

Please get all your friends, family, workmates, rich people you happen to know, etc. to give money, and please share the link on Facebook, Snapchat, etc.

Why the legal department?

The IWGB has a very effective legal department, and we devote far more man hours to defending members’ rights than a normal trade union. But this costs money and we regularly fundraise to make sure it can keep going. The department has two main roles – to handle the day-to-day problems that members have, especially related to disciplinary and grievance procedures, and to bring cases to court where this is necessary. The IWGB has won a series of important victories in the courts for our members, and all of this was based on the work of the legal department.

This helps you as a member because the legal department will fight for you in the most determined and professional way possible, if you have a problem. But it also helps because management learns quickly that you don’t mess with our legal department, so in the workplaces where they have made their mark, the casual forms of employer abuse that were once common disappear.

We do this as cheaply as possible (ask to see our accounts if you are in any doubt) but it does cost money! The legal department has office costs, and salary costs, and we urgently need to fund the position of a translator. So sign up, give us money, and tell the world about the sponsored Thames walk…

Keeping the lifeline going: The ESOL classes need your help —

Keeping the lifeline going: The ESOL classes need your help

Since its beginnings the IWGB has been offering English classes to its members. The interest in these courses has shown how vital it is for immigrants to get this kind of support, as it helps them increase their confidence and gives them the tools to navigate their daily lives in London.

In July 2016 the IWGB received private funding which allowed the union to start the Sadiq Scholarship Fund, and with that support we started the organisation of fully funded English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes. Since then, the course has been run by professional teachers and with no more than four students per class. The course has proved to be a big success, taking students from E1 level to E2 in less than a year.

As we move forward, IWGB is committed to the continuation and ongoing development of these classes. However, this past June was the last month the union received the private funding that allowed for the classes to be organised. Now we need your help to be able to keep providing these classes. We hope to raise funding not only to continue the current course at E2, but to also add an additional E1 course running in tandem, so that we can cater for a larger proportion of our members.

As Maya Refaat, one of the teachers and administrators of the programme has stated, “ESOL classes provide much more than a chance to learn English: they are a lifeline; a gateway to integrate into a new community, make new friends and combat loneliness, improve confidence and set sights on ambitions never before conceived to be possible.”

Please go to https://www.fundsurfer.com/crowdfund/english-for-speakers-of-other-languages-esol-classes-at-iwgb and donate whatever you can, so that we can keep the lifeline going.