Student letter of support for the outsourced workers campaign — April 24, 2018

Student letter of support for the outsourced workers campaign

Dear Directors,

We, students at the institutes of the School of Advanced Study, would like to request your support in a matter that is relevant for all of us as members of this prestigious institute and of a larger academic community.

As students at the School of Advanced Study, it is important for us to know that our school and the University of London is more than merely a place for research and teaching, and that it also aims to be involved in its community and in society in general – through events such as the Being Human festival, public lectures and consideration of opportunities to reach out to the community.

We are proud of this involvement with community and social issues, and believe a responsibility towards our most imminent community, that of university workers, is an inherent part of this approach. We are sure the School of Advanced Study and its institutes would be proud to see its graduates taking an active part in the betterment of society. We want SAS to feel that pride, and we want to be proud of our Schools and our Institutes’ true commitment to workers.

The community of SAS students includes those studying about the lives of migrants and the hardships they face, about human rights, law and social struggles. We cannot, and our institutes cannot, ignore those issues at our own home. Because we deeply care about this home, and we know you do, too.

The University of London employs a significant number of outsourced employees. We meet them every day, at the entrance to the buildings, in cleaning and providing catering for events. Those employees are currently struggling for direct employment and decent working conditions.

The IWGB is the biggest union on campus, both for outsourced and direct employees, representing over 90% of the outsourced workers at the University of London central administration.

As such, we call you, the directors of SAS institutions, to demand the IWGB will be invited to participate in the review of facilities management contracts being undertaken by the University. This is required as a step reflecting democracy, respect for workers’ rights and the basic rights to collective bargaining and free association.

We also call you as directors to demand the University of London will guarantee the review will not result in any job losses among the outsourced workers and that it will ensure that all outsourced workers, in all roles and functions, are brought in-house.

Last, we request that as directors, leaders of our prominent institutes, you will engage the SAS community in an open discussion about the social responsibility of the School of Advanced Study and the University of London towards its members, workers and larger community.

Thank you,

 

Lilija Alijeva, ICWS

Charlotte Berry, IHR

Alex Curry, ILAS

Martina Mastandrea, IES

Maayan Niezna, IALS

Daniela Zanini, IMLR

Olga Iskra, ICwS

Dean Thompson, ICwS

Ala Al-Mahaidi, ICwS

Cheryl Bellisario, ICwS

Cassandra Soderstrom, ICwS

Dallia Mitchell, ICwS

Jennifer Clancy, ICwS

Isobel Archer, ICwS

Cara Priestley, ICwS

Tanishtha Bhatia Sen Gupta, ICwS

Ellie McDonald, ICwS

Celine Denisot, ICwS

Jose Guevara, ILAS

 

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University of London’s outsourced workers need you — April 20, 2018

University of London’s outsourced workers need you

For two days next week – 25 and 26 April – more than 100 cleaners, porters, security officers, receptionists, gardeners, post room and audio-visual staff at the University of London (UoL) will be striking for fairness and equality. And they need your support on the picket line outside Senate House.

This is expected to be the biggest ever strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history.  Continue reading

UCU members vote to accept employers’ latest pensions offer — April 15, 2018

UCU members vote to accept employers’ latest pensions offer

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) have voted to accept Universities UK’s (UUK) offer, which establishes a joint expert panel to evaluate the pensions provided by the University Superannuation Scheme (USS).

This decision puts all currently planned strike action – including that scheduled for next week – on hold. As the IWGB position was to support national UCU industrial action, this means its members are now standing down as well.

Nearly two thirds of eligible UCU members (33,973) took part in the consultation, with 64 per cent (21,683) voting to accept the offer from Universities UK, and 12,230 voting to reject it.

Writing to members following the vote, UCU’s general secretary, Sally Hunt said that, “In line with the decision of members the union will suspend its immediate industrial action plans but keep our legal strike mandate live until the agreement between UCU and UUK is noted by USS.

“For the avoidance of doubt, all currently planned industrial action – including that scheduled for next week – is suspended and members should work normally.”

Strike action that began in February, centred on UUK’s plans to overhaul the USS, which has 400,000 members at 67 universities and colleges and 300 specialist institutions such as the Royal Society and Cancer Research UK. The first UUK offer to end the strike in March was unanimously rejected by UCU.

Industrial action took place at 65 universities across the UK, with a loss of some 14 days of teaching. There were fears that further action would disrupt final examinations and prevent students on some courses from graduating.

“Now we have agreement to move forward jointly, looking again at the USS valuation alongside a commitment from the employers to a guaranteed, defined benefit scheme,’ explains Sally Hunt.

“We hope this important agreement will hearten workers across the UK fighting to defend their pension rights and was won through the amazing strike action of UCU members.”

 

 

IWGB to apply for judicial review in groundbreaking outsourced workers’ rights case — April 11, 2018

IWGB to apply for judicial review in groundbreaking outsourced workers’ rights case

The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is challenging the decision by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) to not hear an application for trade union recognition that would broaden the rights of outsourced workers and introduce the concept of a “joint-employer” to the UK.

  • IWGB is arguing that denying outsourced workers the right to collectively bargain with their de-facto employer, the University of London, is a breach of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights
  • The CAC refused to hear the application made by the IWGB in November
  • If the challenge is successful, the High Court will force the CAC to hear the case

The claim for judicial review has been filed in the High Court and, if successful, would force the CAC to consider the union’s application.

In November, the IWGB brought a case to the CAC to require the University of London to recognise the union for the purposes of collective bargaining on behalf of some of its outsourced workers.

The law to date has been interpreted as only allowing workers to collectively bargain with their direct employer, in this case facilities management company Cordant Security. But, if successful, the test case would open the doors for workers throughout the UK to collectively bargain with their de-facto employer as well as their direct employer, introducing the concept of a joint-employer to UK law.

The IWGB is arguing that denying the outsourced workers the right to collectively bargain with the university, which is their de-facto employer, is a breach of article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The proposed collective bargaining unit would include security officers, porters and post room workers.

This case is trying to push the boundaries of employment law and make sure domestic law is keeping up with the requirements of the European Convention on Human Rights. Due to its groundbreaking nature, the IWGB expected that the matter would ultimately be decided by the appellate courts.

The case backed by The Good Law Project.

IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Low paid outsourced workers across the country routinely have their pay and terms and conditions decided by their de-facto employers, whose premises they clean or maintain. In this set-up the contractors are often little more than glorified middle men. For the collective bargaining rights of these low paid workers to mean anything, they must be able to negotiate with the actual decision maker.”

Good law Project founder Jolyon Maugham QC said “There are many ways bad employers dodge the cost of workers’ rights and outsourcing can be one of them. The treatment of workers with modest bargaining power and little influence, can be hidden from view, but it shouldn’t be hidden from the law through the use of faceless outsourcing companies. I’m proud to be supporting this case that will ensure that domestic law protects the human rights of some of the most vulnerable workers in the UK.”

Outsourced workers at the University of London have been campaigning since September to be made direct employees of the university and plan to stage the biggest ever outsourced workers strike in the history of UK higher education on 25 and 26 April.

-ENDS-

For more information, please contact Emiliano Mellino, IWGB press officer. Email: press@iwgb.co.uk

 

USS pensions update — April 6, 2018

USS pensions update

Members of the University and College Union (UCU) are currently voting on the latest proposals put forward by Universities UK (UUK) to end the nationwide industrial action against cuts to university staff pension benefits.

Ahead of the 13 April voting deadline, UCU has called an emergency general meeting for members wishing to discuss the e-ballot and the proposals. This will take place in Senate House, 10 April, room G4, 12–1pm. In the meantime, see here for a range of useful analysis of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pensions dispute written by academics in response to UUK’s 23 March proposal.

The vote

If members say YES to the proposal, UCU will suspend its immediate plans for industrial action, but keep the legal strike mandate live until the proposal is formally noted at the board of the USS.

If there is a NO vote, the next strike action scheduled for 23–27 April, which coincides with IWGB’s outsourced worker strikes on 25 and 26 April, will go ahead.

A further 14 days of industrial action is on the cards for May and June in almost all institutions, and there are plans for a fresh ballot of UCU members to escalate the action further in the autumn. Employers will be asked to improve their proposal so that it contains a ‘no detriment’ clause.

An overwhelming show of hands at the recent IWGB branch meeting confirmed its members’ commitment to continue their support for any UCU action should the current UUK offer be rejected.

 

 

 

USS pensions update: new proposal sent to UCU members — March 27, 2018
Pensions meeting update and breaking news — March 22, 2018

Pensions meeting update and breaking news

The 22 March all-staff meeting held by the University and College Union (UCU) at Senate House attracted nearly 40 people keen to receive an update on the current UK-wide universities pensions dispute.

It was led by Tim Hall, UCU’s Senate House branch chair, who provided a summary of events to date including a day-by-day picket report. He also recognised the ongoing support from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), and confirmed there will be a further 14 days of strike action starting in late May or early June. Continue reading

Broken promises over outsourcing — March 15, 2018

Broken promises over outsourcing

Letter from IWGB branch secretary Danny Millum, to Ghazwa Alwani-Starr, director of property and facilities management at the University of London

 

Dear Ghaz,

I note with regret that the university has announced the postponement of the decision on bringing its outsourced workers in-house until May.

This will be extremely frustrating for the hundreds of workers who not only have to endure the current discriminatory two-tier employment situation, but were promised a decision in March.

Furthermore, it is likely to add to the already massive reputational damage the university has suffered as a consequence of failing to resolve this issue – particularly embarrassing in a year when the university is celebrating 150 years of women in higher education (#LeadingWomen) and yet continues to treat its predominantly female and Latino cleaning workforce so poorly (#HypocrisyandDiscrimination).

As I am sure you have seen, the university now faces the biggest outsourced worker strike in HE (higher education) history, which is scheduled for 25 and 26 April, and which is already attracting national press attention (Outsourced University of London workers to strike over pay and conditions).

The in-house campaign, led by the workers themselves, continues to have three simple and fair demands:

  1. End outsourcing and bring in-house all outsourced workers on the same terms and conditions as other directly employed staff immediately

  2. End zero-hours contracts

  3. Implement pay rises that it has promised but failed to deliver

The campaign will continue to escalate until these demands are met.

Best wishes,

Danny

Danny Millum

Branch Secretary

University of London IWGB

_____________________________________________________________

Media stories on 25-26 April strike action

University cleaners announce biggest ever outsourced workers strike in UK higher education —

University cleaners announce biggest ever outsourced workers strike in UK higher education

BREAKING NEWS: STRIKE FUND CROWDPAC NOW OPEN! PLEASE DONATE HERE!

  • More than 100 cleaners, porters, receptionists and other outsourced workers of the University of London will strike on 25 and 26 April
  • Workers demand an end to outsourcing, an end to zero-hours and pay rises
  • Campaign has been supported by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and others

University of London workers organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) are to hold the biggest-ever strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history. Continue reading