End outsourcing at Birkbeck: petition and demonstration — June 20, 2018

End outsourcing at Birkbeck: petition and demonstration

The campaign to end outsourcing at the University of London is picking up momentum.

Birkbeck had decided to start its own in-house campaign beginning with a demonstration on 26 June, and a call to sign the ‘Birkbeck Justice for Workers’ petition as detailed below.

Dear all,

Sign the Birkbeck Justice for Workers petition: https://tinyurl.com/bbkj4w
Join the demonstration: outside the Birkbeck main building, Tuesday 26 June, 4–6pm

There is inequality at the heart of our university. Cleaning, catering and security staff are outsourced. The workers get lower wages and worse conditions, such as sick leave and pensions.

UNISON and the other trade unions at Birkbeck are organising the campaign to end outsourcing: we want the workers brought back in-house. This means they would be directly employed by the university. We believe that these services are essential: without cleaning, catering and security, there could be no teaching or research.

We ask that Birkbeck commits to bringing all of its outsourced workers back in-house within six months, without any reduction in jobs or services. This means the workers will get equality when it comes to pay, sick leave, holidays, pensions; and also access to the library and IT, study assistance, family leave, and an end to zero-hours contracts in catering.

We call on the Master of Birkbeck, Professor David Latchman, to make a written commitment to this effect as soon as possible.

How you can support the campaign:

Best wishes

 

Birkbeck Justice for Workers

 

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IWGB general secretary assesses ruling against Pimlico Plumbers — June 14, 2018

IWGB general secretary assesses ruling against Pimlico Plumbers

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), assesses the significance of Wednesday’s supreme court ruling against Pimlico Plumbers, in which it unanimously held that one of its so-called ‘gig economy’ workers was entitled to employment rights.

Writing in the Guardian, he said “this was a highly awaited decision that has already generated commentary from experts in the field. However, if the question is ‘What did it change?’, the short answer is ‘Not much’. It’s more significant in that it confirms what we already knew to be correct.”

Read the full ‘When will ‘gig economy’ companies admit that their workers have rights?

University of London commits to abolishing zero-hours contracts by new academic year — June 11, 2018

University of London commits to abolishing zero-hours contracts by new academic year

A strike and subsequent demonstration from the IWGB on Wednesday 6 June has pushed the University of London to release a statement regarding the future of outsourced contracts at the university’s central properties.

While concessions were made with regards to zero-hour contracts – which will be abolished by the end of the summer vacation – they continue to lack a commitment to bring all outsourced staff back in-house over the coming 12 months. Until this is promised, the IWGB will continue its campaign to support the brave outsourced staff at the University of London who are still needing to fight for equality in terms and conditions, and treatment. Continue reading

Second draft: Better but still a fail — June 8, 2018

Second draft: Better but still a fail

Dear Professor Sir Adrian Smith,

Please do forgive me for the delay- on Wednesday you put out a new statement with the University of London’s position on outsourcing (below), and I’ve only just now had the opportunity to write you to tell you how useless it is.

But first let’s start on a positive note: like any piece of writing, the second draft is much better than the first. However, given that the first draft was so rambling and incoherent as to render it virtually meaningless, the bar was set at an admittedly low level. I reckon we’ll be there by the third or fourth draft.

You make a point of referring to the “25 IWGB strikers picketing outside Senate House.” I must say this does cause me some concern. And I’m not talking about the contemptuous nature in which you dismiss the legitimacy of your outsourced staff’s grievances, I’m talking more about your ability to count.

Given that one of your main reasons for delaying the inevitable insourcing is budgetary pressures, I do wonder if those budgetary pressures might evaporate when analysed by someone who knows how to add? Perhaps you’d like to delegate this function, but it’s never too late to acquire new skills so if you do want to take a stab at it yourself, you might find this book of some assistance: Basic Maths for Dummies. Just make sure to have it delivered on a day when your postroom staff are not on strike!

I’m sorry you find it frustrating that the IWGB continues to strike despite UoL’s commitment that it would bring services in house “where there is a fit with strategic priorities”. But I do think this rather betrays a lack of sympathy on your part.

Imagine if when you were offered the role of Vice-Chancellor, instead of UoL committing to pay you the astronomical £175,307 salary you currently earn they’d said: “Adrian, we’ll pay you £50K per year and then increase it to £175,307 where there is a fit with strategic priorities”, something tells me I’d be writing to a different VC right now!

I also note the usual trademarks of self-congratulatory praise and the attribution of credit for any progress made to UNISON and UCU. This time you’ve even managed to fit both in one sentence – I guess practice makes perfect!

I have to say though, I am surprised to see you express the belief that protests, industrial action, etc. will continue regardless of any decision UoL might make on outsourcing. This is all the more surprising given we have stated our position in this regard ad nauseum.

But out of sympathy for your struggles with numeracy, and in light of your apparent difficulties with literacy as well, I’ll state the position one more time: the IWGB will continue campaigning until there is a commitment that all outsourced workers will be brought back in house in 12 months or less. So, when you fail to commit to bringing workers in house in that time frame the campaign continues. Professor, you really don’t need a PhD to understand the logic of this one.

On a serious note, I think we can all agree that the UoL is currently in total meltdown. Industrial strife, protests, strikes, student occupations, a slew of extremely negative national press coverage, public criticism from national politicians, a security lock down rendering basic health and safety protections non-existent, a reputation being dragged through the mud, and more.

And despite all that UoL still refuses to negotiate with the IWGB and accede to its outsourced workers’ reasonable demands. Something tells me there must be a better way of doing things.

Best wishes,

Dr Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
IWGB

 

Statement from University of London’s Vice-Chancellor setting out the university’s position on outsourcing

Dear colleagues,​

As you will have seen and heard, we currently have about 25 IWGB strikers picketing outside Senate House together with 7 students protesting inside the building.

It is very disappointing that the IWGB are continuing to disrupt the University’s operations, particularly after the Board of Trustees’ decision to bring services in-house where there is a fit with strategic priorities. The University together with UCU and Unison fought very hard to achieve this breakthrough decision despite concerns from the Board that the additional costs could impact the delivery of the University’s academic mission. The continued protests reinforce the belief expressed by the Board that bringing services in-house will not eliminate continued disruption and the resulting high costs.

The recent additional security provided by the current contract has prevented five further occupations but at a cost in excess of £400k. Today’s student occupation follows a reduction in the level of security and consequently arrangements are being reconsidered again. This additional cost will inevitably impact the University’s budget.

Having reached its decision, the Board of Trustees requested that the University brings forward detailed plans as quickly as possible. It is anticipated that some services will be brought in-house within the 2018/19 academic year. In addition it can now be confirmed that zero hour contracts will be eliminated by the end of the summer. Nevertheless there remain concerns that making changes too quickly carries logistical, contractual and financial risks, and therefore the University will not commit to unrealistic and undeliverable timeframes.

 

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up —

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up

Dear Chris

I have not yet received a reply from yourself or the University to my emails below, but as a new statement has appeared on the intranet I am going to take that as a response of sorts.

There is much in that statement to take issue with (I believe my colleague Dr Moyer-Lee has already been in touch regarding this), but I just wanted to concentrate on one key point.

The statement claims: ‘The continued protests reinforce the belief expressed by the Board that bringing services in-house will not eliminate continued disruption and the resulting high costs’.

Surely it is obvious that the opposite is true.

The protests have continued because services have NOT been brought in-house. All the University has done is issue a vague statement which guarantees nothing.

A clear declaration that all services will be brought in house within 12 months, if agreed by the workers (we do like to include the actual people affected in these decisions), would end the campaign and of course eliminate the continued disruption.

This is the IWGB position, and it could not be more reasonable or straightforward. I would once again ask you to look at the situation objectively – these workers are simply asking for equal treatment. The University is denying them this, and refusing to talk to them or their representatives. Therefore they have no option but to campaign. The costs that this is incurring for our institution are totally unnecessary, and result from the University’s unreasonableness.

I, and your outsourced workers, would appreciate at least the courtesy of a reply to this email.

Best wishes,

Danny

 

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

 

Sent on 5 June 2018

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up

Dear Chris

I am also attaching today’s letter from John McDonnell, in which he calls for a new statement from the University of London containing ‘no longer than a 12-month implementation period’ and ‘dialogue and negotiations with the IWGB’.

I hope that the University will take note of the opinion of such a senior figure, and take these two sensible steps to resolve this issue.

Best wishes

Danny

 

Sent on 5 June 2018

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees – follow up

Dear Chris

I am just following up on my emails below, to both yourself and the Board of Trustees, having received a reply to neither.

I am doing so in the light of tomorrow’s industrial action and protest, and also the revelations in yesterday’s Guardian newspaper as to the sheer scale of the University of London’s spending on additional security.

IWGB members (particularly those Cordant workers who have been on strike for the last year) are extremely frustrated and disappointed, having been given no solid guarantees at all as to their future, and left hanging with appalling management and discriminated against in terms of their terms and conditions. We have continually offered the University the opportunity to negotiate directly with its outsourced workers – and the University has refused to do so, and instead spent hundreds of thousands of pounds unnecessarily.

The University now has the opportunity to resolve this crisis (see below for the workers’ extremely reasonable demands – that contracts be brought back in-house within 12 months). Should it not take it, then it must take responsibility for all the additional costs, damage to reputation (the Observer will be reporting tomorrow from the picket line) and disruption to its core academic mission.

I hope that you and the Board of Trustees realise that it is simply irrational to continue with this policy.

Best wishes,

Danny

 

Sent on 31 May 2018

Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – letter to the Board of Trustees

Dear Board of Trustees members

I am writing as branch secretary of the University of London IWGB with regard to the campaign to bring workers in-house at the University of London.

I would like to start by apologising for not writing to the whole Board. As you probably know, it’s hard to track down contact details for all the members – please do forward this on as appropriate!

As I am sure you are aware, the IWGB represents the vast majority of outsourced workers at the University of London, and has been campaigning since September 2017 to end outsourcing and the discriminatory 2-tier workforce at Senate House.

The campaign has garnered huge press attention and popular support, most recently featured the biggest outsourced worker strike in HE history, and has resulted in the decision of the Board of Trustees (made at the 23 May meeting) to bring workers back in-house.

However, as you will see from my email below, while we welcome this decision in principle, the statement issued by Adrian Smith is extremely vague, and as a consequence has no chance of achieving the stated aims of the Board in reducing the risk of industrial action or ending disruption at the University of London.

Indeed, there is another strike planned for next Wednesday 6 June, which has already caused a major event to be moved.

What we are calling for is very straightforward – a clear statement from the University of London (similar to that made by SOAS) that outsourcing will end in 12 months or less.

Without clarity on this issue, there is no way that our members and supporters (who know that it is only their pressure that has brought the University to this decision) will end their campaign.

We will be making this letter public, so that it is quite clear how reasonable the IWGB position is – and that the ball is clearly in the University of London’s court if it wishes to end this dispute.

Best wishes,

Danny

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

 

Sent on 30 May 2018

Subject: Bringing workers in-house at the University of London – next steps

Dear Chris

I am writing in response to the message below from the Vice-Chancellor regarding the Board of Trustee’s decision on bringing outsourced workers in-house.

While we welcome the decision in principle expressed below, this statement will not be sufficient to end the in-house campaign at the University of London, or stop the strike action due to take place next week.

The disruption to the University’s activity will continue (I am sure that you will be aware that next week’s Down and Out event has chosen to move location in support of the workers) and the University will continue to accrue negative publicity (see today’s letter from Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley (attached) as well as numerous press articles (of which this is the latest). The situation is only likely to escalate given the extreme disappointment among workers which the VC’s statement has engendered.

I am therefore writing to clarify what is needed ‘to expedite the process to reduce the risk of industrial action as far as possible and ensure the University is not distracted or hindered from furthering its core academic mission’ – something which both we and the Board wish to see.

The current statement is much too vague with regard to contracts, timescales and even which groups will be affected.

Workers require a statement along the lines of the 4 August 2017 SOAS announcement from Baroness Amos, which made clear that outsourcing would be ended within 12 months, and all workers brought in-house house with no loss of jobs or hours.

The IWGB and its members would then be prepared to suspend the campaign, and we could move onto working together to ensure that the transition was a smooth one and beneficial to both parties.

Our position is an eminently reasonable one, and I would remind you that we remain (as I have reiterated on numerous occasions) open to direct talks to resolve this dispute.

Best wishes,

Danny

 

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

 

Message from the Vice-Chancellor regarding Board of Trustees decision

From: Human Resources
Sent: 24 May 2018 16:04
To: Central-University <central-university@london.ac.uk>
Subject: Message from the Vice Chancellor

Dear Colleagues

I am writing to you to update you on the discussion and decision on the Facilities Management Review that was taken at the Board of Trustees meeting yesterday afternoon. The Board accepted the recommendation from the Facilities Management Review Group that:

The University will develop an efficient provision model in which in house services are supported by contracts designed to provide both the specialist expertise and the flexibility to respond to the varying needs of the University. 

However the Board raised significant concerns over the additional costs of bringing services in house and the impact on the University’s academic agenda. The Board were content to support the Review Group’s recommendations contingent on seeing more detailed plans and costs which would deliver benefits to both staff and the University together with plans for mitigating the impact on academic activities and student facing services. The Board would like the University Management to expedite the process to reduce the risk of further industrial actions as far as possible and ensure the University is not distracted or hindered from furthering its core academic mission.

The decision will mean a significant financial investment which will be linked to key strategic initiatives:

  • Ensuring  security and compliance at Senate House and across our estate following heightened security risks
  • Ensuring Senate House offers a high quality experience for staff, academic activity and events
  • The development of an effective Residential Student Life programme, recognising that we need to enhance and broaden our pastoral care for residents in halls

In practical terms, these initiatives will be progressed over the next 12-18 months with some services being brought in house in 2018/19 where there is an opportunity and clear rationale for doing this although the process will be phased over subsequent years.

I would like to thank the Review Group on the thoroughness of the review and the understanding reached on an extremely complex set of issues. While the outcome may not meet everyone’s expectations, I do believe it to be reasonable, measured and deliverable.

Based in the Board’s decision, I have asked for additional security to be stepped down in the hope that the threat of student occupation is now reduced.  This will be kept under review and will be reintroduced if necessary despite the high costs.

Starting at once, the University Management will work closely with the recognised Trade Unions, (UNISON and UCU) and current contractors to transition staff into the University as well as work urgently to address issues that have been highlighted during the review e.g. the elimination of zero hours contracts.

 

 

Emplear directamente a los trabajadores en la Universidad de Londres – carta al consejo directivo — June 4, 2018

Emplear directamente a los trabajadores en la Universidad de Londres – carta al consejo directivo

Estimado Chris,

Le escribo en respuesta al mensaje que figura a continuación por parte del Vicerrector con respecto a la decisión de la Junta de Administración de contratar a los trabajadores subcontratados por la empresa.

Si bien nos agrada esta decisión, la declaración no es suficiente para finalizar la campaña interna en la Universidad de Londres o detener la huelga que se realizará la semana próxima.

Las interrupciones a la actividad de la Universidad continuarán (estoy seguro de que sabrá que el evento Down and Out de la próxima semana ha elegido trasladar su ubicación en apoyo a los trabajadores), y la Universidad seguirá aumentando su publicidad negativa (vea la carta de hoy del co-líder del Green Party, Jonathan Bartley (adjunto), así como numerosos artículos de prensa (de los cuales este es el último). La situación es probable que se intensifique dada la gran decepción que la declaración del VC ha generado entre los trabajadores.

Por lo tanto, le escribo para aclarar lo que es necesario “para agilizar el proceso para reducir el riesgo de nuevas acciones industriales en la medida de lo posible y garantizar que la Universidad no se distraiga ni obstaculice el avance de su misión académica principal”, algo que tanto nosotros como la Junta deseamos ver.

La declaración actual es poco concisa con respecto a los contratos, los plazos y qué grupos se verán afectados.

Los trabajadores requieren de una declaración similar al anuncio de la Baronesa Amos de SOAS del 4 de agosto de 2017, que dejó claro que la subcontratación terminaría en 12 meses, y que todos los trabajadores serían contratados por la empresa sin riesgo de perder sus trabajos u horas.

IWGB y sus miembros estarían entonces preparados para suspender la campaña, y podríamos empezar a trabajar juntos para garantizar una transición fluida y beneficiosa para ambas partes.

Nuestra posición es razonable, y quisiera recordarle que seguimos (como hemos reiterado en numerosas ocasiones) abiertos a conversar directamente para resolver esta disputa.

Saludos cordiales,

Danny

Danny Millum

Branch Secretary

University of London IWGB

 

 

 

Estimados compañeros,

Les escribo para informarles sobre la discusión y la decisión sobre la Revisión de la Gestión de Instalaciones que se tomó en la reunión de la Junta de Administración ayer por la tarde. La Junta aceptó la recomendación del Grupo de Revisión de la Gestión de Instalaciones que:

La Universidad desarrollará un modelo de provisión eficiente en el que los servicios internos sean respaldados por contratos diseñados para proporcionar tanto una experiencia especializada como la flexibilidad para responder a las diversas necesidades de la Universidad.

Sin embargo, la Junta también planteó sus preocupaciones sobre los costos adicionales contratar a los trabajadores subcontratados y el impacto en la agenda académica de la Universidad. La Junta apoyaría las recomendaciones del Grupo de Revisión siempre que tuviera acceso detallado a los planes y costos que brindarían beneficios tanto al personal como a la Universidad, junto con planes para mitigar el impacto a las actividades académicas y los servicios dirigidos a los estudiantes. La Junta desearía que la Administración de la Universidad agilizara el proceso para reducir el riesgo de nuevas acciones industriales en la medida de lo posible y garantizara que la Universidad no se distraiga ni obstaculice el avance de su misión académica principal.

La decisión traerá consigo una inversión financiera significativa que estará vinculada a iniciativas estratégicas clave:

  • Asegurar la seguridad y el cumplimiento en Senate House y en toda nuestra propiedad tras el incremento de los riesgos de seguridad.
  • Asegurar que Senate House ofrezca una experiencia de alta calidad para el personal, la actividad académica y los eventos.
  • El desarrollo de un programa efectivo sobre la Vida Estudiantil Residencial, reconociendo que necesitamos mejorar y ampliar nuestra atención pastoral para los residentes en los halls.

En términos prácticos, se trabajarán en estas iniciativas en los próximos 12-18 meses y algunos servicios pasarán a ser contratados por la universidad en 2018/19. Serán aquellos servicios que supongan una oportunidad y un fundamento claro para hacerlo, aunque el proceso se podría realizarse en diferentes etapas en los años siguientes.

Me gustaría agradecer al Grupo de Revisión por la minuciosidad del examen y el entendimiento alcanzado sobre un asunto extremadamente complejo. Si bien es posible que el resultado no satisfaga las expectativas de todos, creo que es razonable, moderado y viable.

Basándose en la decisión de la Junta, he pedido la reducción de la seguridad adicional con la esperanza de que ahora se reduzca la amenaza de ocupación estudiantil. Esta será mantenida bajo revisión y se reintroducirá si es necesario a pesar de los altos costos.

Comenzando de inmediato, la Administración de la Universidad trabajará en estrecha colaboración con los sindicatos reconocidos (UNISON y UCU) y contratistas actuales para la transición del personal a la Universidad, así como trabajará con urgencia para abordar los problemas que hayan sido destacados durante la revisión, por ejemplo, la eliminación de los contratos de cero horas.

En nombre del Vicerector,

 

 

London university criticised for spending £415,000 on protest security —

London university criticised for spending £415,000 on protest security

The Guardian has published a story highlighting the amount of money that the University of London has spent money on security during protests in support of outsourced workers.

Below is an excerpt from the article, which is generating attention on Facebook.

 

A university has been criticised for spending more than £400,000 on extra security during student protests in support of striking outsourced workers.

Politicians, students and unions criticised the “astonishing” cost of security during protests at the University of London (UoL), which took place in support of striking outsourced workers and their calls for equal terms on conditions such as sick pay.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that the UoL would spend hundreds of thousands of pounds turning itself into a prison rather than agree to the reasonable demand of its outsourced workers to be treated fairly, equally and with respect,” said Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary at the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain.

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green party, said: “It is astonishing to see a university which failed to give workers the pay it promised spend nearly £415,134 on security for a peaceful protest.”

A freedom of information request revealed that the university spent £99,690 on extra security guards for a sit-in between 19 and 28 March. This security is believed to have been in place until 23 May.

The university said it could not confirm figures for May 2018 but that the total sum spent on additional security in March and April 2018 was £415,134.88.

Read the full story

 

 

UoL outsourced workers close to a historic victory — May 29, 2018

UoL outsourced workers close to a historic victory

Thanks to your support, last week outsourced workers at the University of London (UoL)won a massive concession, when the university announced that it would start a process to end outsourcing.

Sadly, the announcement was vague and offered no clear timeline nor commitment from the university, despite repeated demands by the IWGB for clarity and a maximum 12-month timetable for in-sourcing. Continue reading

IWGB General Secretary responds to University of London announcement — May 25, 2018

IWGB General Secretary responds to University of London announcement

Dear Professor Sir Adrian Smith,

I am writing you to share some musings on the statement you put out yesterday regarding outsourced workers (below).

For such a distinguished individual with quite the collection of titles – Vice Chancellor, Sir, Professor – the quality of writing, or lack thereof, is somewhat startling. I had to read it a few times in order to try and understand what you were saying and why- and even after that I’m a little confused. But then again, that may have been the intention.

So let me sum up what I think you’re trying to say, before going on to respond to it in rather clearer language: the University of London can’t handle anymore of the campaigning and strikes, and so whilst they’re unhappy about having to spend more money, they will bring the outsourced workers in house over the course of the next several years, with the help of the two unions on campus who have no mandate to act on behalf of the outsourced workers.

This announcement follows on the heels of seven years of campaigning around outsourced workers’ pay, terms, and conditions, and more specifically, several months of the IWGB’s Back in House Campaign, which has been calling for an immediate end to outsourcing. On the eve of the Board of Trustees’ meeting on 23 May, we even made clear that we could consider any proposal which brought workers back in house within 12 months, an incredibly generous concession on the part of the workers given how long you’ve been treating them unfairly.

Now I appreciate that you must find it frustrating to deal with the IWGB as you deem the union to be militant, radical, and uncompromising. This must be all the more frustrating when compared to your preferred method of conducting industrial relations. But whilst we may not take positions you agree with, one thing we are not is irrational.

Indeed, the mechanics of our motions and the rationality of our strategy is crystal clear and utterly coherent. When you adopt practices which are unfair, discriminatory, or exploitative, we will campaign, protest, strike, and expose you to the world. When you stop these practices, or announce you are planning to stop them with clear guarantees and within a reasonable time frame, we call off the campaigning. Simple.

You didn’t really expect over a hundred cleaners, porters, security guards, receptionists, gardeners and AV staff to call off their strike and campaign on the vague promise that at some point in the next several years they’d be brought back in house, did you? And you couldn’t possibly have expected to get favourable press coverage out of this rubbish announcement, could you? If the articles that came out within 24 hours of the announcement are anything to go by, you’re in store for quite a bit more negative press coverage in the coming weeks:

https://leftfootforward.org/2018/05/workers-win-major-concession-for-outsourced-workers-at-university-of-london/

https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/4353×9/the-university-of-london-is-leaving-its-outsourced-workers-in-limbo

http://www.fm-world.co.uk/news/university-of-london-agrees-to-work-with-unions-to-take-fm-jobs-in-house/

So in sum, the ball is entirely in your court. Your first offer is rejected. If you want the industrial strife to end, make an announcement that all outsourced workers will be brought back in house, on equal terms and conditions, within the next 12 months and we will give it serious consideration.  Given that this matter has been a live issue for the past seven years, our position is more than reasonable.

Alternatively, continue to endure strikes, protests, campaigns, negative press coverage, staff malcontent, and spending exorbitant amounts of money on running UoL like a prison. If past experience is anything to go by, students, trade union branches (in particular UNISON and UCU branches from around the country), activists, politicians, and others will continue to support the workers’ cause until victory.

Best wishes,

Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
IWGB