Landmark outsourcing protest strikes a chord with the world’s media — February 27, 2019

Landmark outsourcing protest strikes a chord with the world’s media

Yesterday (26 February) hundreds of London’s outsourced workers, including cleaners, security and catering staff, walked out in the latest in a series of strikes over pay and conditions.

Coming together in a show of solidarity, they timed their protest to mark what the Guardian describes as a “landmark case on collective bargaining that could empower the UK’s 3.3 million outsourced workers to negotiate directly with their de-facto employers – the companies buying the outsourced services – as well as their direct employers.”

Starting from Senate House, home to the University of London’s administrative offices, members of unions including the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), United Voices of the World (UVW), and PCS, marched through central London. University of London students and the RMT union’s London Regional Council supported them.

Each group of workers had their own particular grievances, but what they all had in common was the desire to end the “discrimination between those who count and those who don’t count at all,” as eloquently voiced by IWGB member, Emma Margarita Cunalata.

Speaking in front of Winston Churchill’s statue opposite the Houses of Parliament she said, “We have the right to earn money, and to the profits that are taken from us. We have the right to a better life.”

Their employers might have chosen to turn a deaf ear to their pleas to clean up outsourcing, but the UK’s media organisations were listening.

More than 15 national and regional publications such as the Financial Times, the Press and Journal, The Times and the iNews, covered the walkout.

Others include:

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UoL proposes new transfer date for Health Education England staff — February 22, 2019

UoL proposes new transfer date for Health Education England staff

The University of London (UoL) has confirmed that the transfer date for employees currently working for Health Education England (HEE) under UoL contracts, is 1 August 2019. 

This decision was apparently made following “an exchange between the vice-chancellor and HEE”, the content of which IWGB has asked to see.

Many of the union’s in-depth legal and financial questions remain unanswered, and its representatives will continue to pursue these as well as explore possibilities of legal action relating to the process.

We will of course keep you posted as to developments.

IWGB launches activities centre for Spanish speakers — February 19, 2019

IWGB launches activities centre for Spanish speakers

The big launch of the IWGB union’s activities centre for Spanish speakers was carried out with great success this Saturday (18 February), which included, employment law workshop, Brexit, legal clinic, language exchange and bingo.

Thanks to all the people who attended the event to get informed, and share a moment of companionship, and fun.

These events will take place every two weeks on Saturdays at Elephant and Castle, which include legal clinics of employment rights and language exchange. The next event will take place on 2nd March from 12.30–3pm to which everyone is invited.

During the week, we will be giving more detailed information about the workshops and the topics to be given.

Details from: henrychangolopez@iwgb.co.uk 

__________________________________________________________________

Con gran éxito se llevo a cabo el lanzamiento del centro de actividades para hispano hablantes del sindicato IWGB este dia sabado, el cual incluyo taller de leyes laborales, salida del Reino Unido de la Union Europea (Brexit), clinica legal, intercambio de lenguaje y bingo.

Gracias a todas las personas que asistieron al evento para informarse y compartir un momento de compañerismo y diversión .

Los eventos tendran lugar cada dos semanas los dias sabados en Elephant and Castle, los cuales incluyen clinicas legales de leyes laborales he intercamibio de lenguaje.
El proximo evento tendra lugar el proximo sabado 2 de marzo de 12:30 – 3pm al cual todos estan invitados..

Durante la semana estaremos dando información mas detallada acerca de los talleres y temas a tratarse.

Details from: henrychangolopez@iwgb.co.uk

Trade unions join forces to ‘clean up outsourcing’ —

Trade unions join forces to ‘clean up outsourcing’

For the first time in UK history, a coalition of unions are coming together in a day of action against outsourcing. The demonstration will take place on 26 February, with marchers starting out at 8am from Senate House, the University of London’s Bloomsbury headquarters.

Outsourcing is one of the underhanded methods used by bosses for decades to drive down our employment conditions. By using middlemen in the form of outsourcing companies, employers are able to offer some workers far worse pay, holiday entitlements, sick pay and pension contributions. 

But the abuse doesn’t stop there. The unaccountable nature of outsourcing companies means workers employed by them are much more likely to suffer from bullying and discrimination.

But we are fighting back. For the last few years outsourced workers have been doing what many thought impossible – organising and winning better rights at work. Now we are coming together for the first joint day of action against outsourcing.

The demonstration will coincide with the day the IWGB is facing the government and the University of London in a landmark case that turn outsourcing on its head.

If successful, the case could open the door for the UK’s 3.3 million outsourced workers to skip the middleman and negotiate directly with their de-facto employer, making it the greatest expansion of employment rights for UK workers in a generation.

This landmark national demo against outsourcing is organised by, IWGB, United Voices of the World, Public and Commercial Services BEIS Branch, and the Bakerloo and Finsbury Park branches of the Rail, Maritime & Transport Workers Union.



IWGB organiser workshops — February 15, 2019

IWGB organiser workshops

We are organising two day-long trainings in London for IWGB members and volunteers on 2nd March (40 spaces), and 16th March (20 spaces).

We will cover lots of campaigning-related topics:

• organising  
• recruitment 
• dealing with the press
• effective social media 
• effective protesting IWGB-style

RSVP is essential to book you and your reps places, by replying to this email – maxdewhurst@iwgb.co.uk – and to get times and location details etc.

________________________________________________

Hola a tod@s,  estoy organizando dos días de training en Londres para los miembros y voluntarios de IWGB el:

  • Sábado 2 de marzo (40 plazas)
  • Sábado 16 de marzo (20 plazas)

Hablaremos sobre muchos temas relacionados con campañas:

  • organizar
  • reclutar
  • lidiar con la prensa
  • uso eficiente de las redes
  • protestas efectivas al estilo IWGB

Para reservar plazas para ti y tus reps y obtener las horas y detalles de la localización etc. solo necesitáis responder al email (maxdewhurst@iwgb.co.uk ).

 

 

What do Goldsmiths security officers want most? To be treated fairly and with dignity and respect — February 13, 2019

What do Goldsmiths security officers want most? To be treated fairly and with dignity and respect

Security officers at Goldsmiths, University of London are tired of their second-class treatment. As outsourced workers managed by CIS, they do not enjoy equal treatment and the same terms and conditions as the university colleagues they protect and defend every day.

They want to be treated with dignity and respect, and are taking action over inadequate holiday pay, sick pay and derisory pensions by launching a campaign to be brought back in house immediately. As part of this campaign, they are holding a protest on Valentine’s Day at Goldsmiths HQ, 8 Lewisham Way, London SE14 6NW, 12–2.30pm.

So, come on Goldsmiths; do not continue to keep these men and women who serve you loyally at arms-length. Why don’t you just  Listen to what your security officers and students have to say.

You pride yourself on being a ‘close-knit community’ with a ‘special commitment to our local communities within south-east London’. Don’t you think it is time to end your dirty affair with CIS and show some love for your security officers?

IWGB offers negotiations to break boycott deadlock at University of London — February 8, 2019

IWGB offers negotiations to break boycott deadlock at University of London

Dear Professor Kopelman,

I am writing you on behalf of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), the union which represents the majority of the University of London’s outsourced workers, to once again offer negotiations as a way out of the current crisis. But first, a little context.

In the Spring of 2011, as a University of London postgrad student, I started working with UoL cleaners. At the time they earned just a hare above the minimum wage (then £5.90 per hour), had the statutory minimum of holidays, statutory sick pay, and no company pensions. They were not unionised and the contractor at the time, Balfour Beatty Workplace, had no regard for even the basics of employment law. Cleaners and porters went months without payment of wages sometimes, abuse was rife and maltreatment the norm. These are the effects of outsourcing.

In addition to setting up English classes to try and help provide a route out of the dire circumstances of being a University of London cleaner, we also initiated a massive recruitment drive to UNISON and launched a London Living Wage campaign. After a wildcat strike and some protests the UoL agreed to implement the London Living Wage and Balfour Beatty recognised UNISON for the purposes of collective bargaining. It was industrial action and campaigning which achieved these results.

In September 2012, still in UNISON, we launched the 3 Cosas Campaign, in order to achieve the same sick pay, holidays, and pensions for outsourced workers as enjoyed by their directly employed colleagues. For while the London Living Wage represented a massive improvement in pay, their terms and conditions still effectively compelled them to work sick or injured, made it difficult for them to visit family in their home countries, and obliged them to retire into poverty. Before launching the 3 Cosas Campaign I wrote to your predecessor offering negotiations, which were rejected.

Unfortunately, during the 3 Cosas Campaign it became clear that the UNISON officials in charge of the branch and London Region had no interest in supporting the outsourced workers. We therefore ran a slate of pro-campaign candidates in local branch elections, only to have the elections invalidated on absurd technicalities. To this day the results have not been released. It is for these reasons that we left UNISON en masse and formed the University of London branch of the IWGB.

Despite the fact that virtually all of the outsourced workers left UNISON to join the IWGB, it has been the firm policy of both the University of London and its contractors since that time to only negotiate with UNISON. In addition to the fact that negotiating with an entity which has not authority to represent the workers and no say over the campaigns is utterly futile, the UoL’s decision to negotiate with the union the workers have chosen to leave in disgust is deeply offensive to these workers.

After over a year of high profile campaigning, involving multiple protests, videos, social media activity, an email writing campaign to your predecessor, and industrial action, at the end of November, 2013 the University and its contractor announced improved sick pay, holidays, and pensions for Balfour Beatty workers. The terms were still not as good as UoL direct employees but were definitely a major improvement on the abysmal conditions prevailing at the time. Once again, this episode demonstrated that it was public pressure and campaigning which led to an improvement in the working lives and dignity of UoL outsourced workers.

But the problem has not been solved. The outsourced workers still work under inferior terms as compared to directly employed colleagues, not just in terms of sick pay, holidays, and pensions, but also in terms of maternity pay and more. Importantly, the outsourced workers suffer a far inferior treatment from management compared to direct employees. The administrative incompetence and incapable management of the outsourcing companies causes immense hardship for your outsourced workers. Pay problems, abusive management, unreasonableness, and incompetence are the defining features of outsourcing at UoL, not mere aberrations. There is no justifiable reason why the predominantly low paid and BME outsourced workforce at UoL should be continuously treated worse than, and have inferior terms and conditions compared to, the better paid, predominantly white British direct employees of the University. It is for all of these reasons that we launched the Back in House campaign in September 2017.

Throughout the duration of this campaign we have had an outstanding offer of negotiations. Indeed, I personally have written to you on more than one occasion offering to negotiate. It is the University’s refusal to negotiate, and its dogged dedication to only engaging with the recognised unions, which has led us to escalate campaign pressure. And thus we find ourselves in the midst of the Senate House Boycott, supported by hundreds, including a number of MPs and political leaders. The Boycott has led to numerous event cancellations and lost revenue for the University and has caused irreparable reputational damage.

Unlike other campaign tactics which can fizzle out without constant injections or resource and energy, the Boycott simply grows with time and becomes self-propelling; the more people cancel events, the more pressure there is for others to do the same. The Boycott is not being waged out of malice or out of desire to harm the UoL; the Boycott is the culmination of eight years of struggle for dignity and decent working conditions on the part of the workers and an obstinate refusal to engage in dialogue on the part of the University. The thing you need to understand is that just as you have a responsibility to safeguard the finances, sound management, and reputation of the University, we have a responsibility to assist our members in achieving respect, dignity, equal treatment, and decent working conditions. In the absence of dialogue and negotiation, campaign tactics are simply the most expeditious method of achieving these results.

Having set the context, I therefore reiterate my offer to talk. The University of London is unique in its refusal to negotiate; indeed the IWGB has engaged in dialogue, debate or negotiation with senior Uber executives, Matthew Taylor, directors of courier companies and a range of other employers.Especially when taking into account the IWGB’s unimpugnable claim to be the representative voice of UoL outsourced workers, the UoL’s position is all the more surprising. But it’s not too late to changecourse. If you agree to negotiate we will send a delegation of IWGB officials, comprised of both full time officers and outsourced worker reps, chosen by us, and we will sit down with you in good faith to see if we can find a negotiated way out of the current crisis.

The choice is yours.

Kind regards,

Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee

General Secretary IWGB

Want to learn for free? Find out what’s on offer at our weekly Spanish classes — February 5, 2019

Want to learn for free? Find out what’s on offer at our weekly Spanish classes

Hola a todos

I have found a new teacher for the lunchtime Spanish classes! Julio from the library, who some of you may know, has ‘volunteered’ to help out.

We will be starting again on 14 February at 12.30pm in the lower mezzanine room, 3rd floor, Institute of Historical Research.

Please do let me know if you can make it so I can give Julio an idea of numbers.

Hasta luego!

Danny

IWGB launches in-house campaign for security guards at Goldsmiths — January 15, 2019

IWGB launches in-house campaign for security guards at Goldsmiths

Outsourced security guards at Goldsmiths, University of London have won the backing of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which has today launched its campaign to bring them in-house with a letter to the university setting out its demands and next steps.

Dear Patrick Loughrey

I am writing to you in my capacity as President of the Independent Workers’ Union of GreatBritain (IWGB) on behalf of the security guards who are currently outsourced to CIS Limited at Goldsmiths University.

As you are aware, these outsourced workers have far inferior terms and conditions in comparison to directly employed members of staff at Goldsmiths, being treated as second class workers despite providing a vital and important job to without which the University could not function. The only way to end this injustice is to bring these outsourced staff back in house so that they benefit from the same payroll and HR departments, the same maternity and paternity pay, the same pensions, sick pay, and holidays, and the same standards of management as in-house employees.

This type of security, decency, and fairness will not be found by using the incompetent contractors you routinely use. We therefore call on Goldsmiths to take immediate action and bring the security guards in house by no later than 1 February 2019. If the workers are not brought in house by this date, the workers at Goldsmiths are prepared to wage a high profile “Goldsmiths Back In House Campaign”. These workers will have the full support ofthe IWGB in this campaign.

We of course remain open to dialogue and negotiations on these matters. However, given past examples where institutions like Goldsmiths have chosen the masochistic path todefeat by ignoring the workers’ demands until they had exerted enough public pressure toforce them into humiliating backpedaling and concessions, we can only assume you will do the same. So let me take this opportunity to be perfectly clear about what will follow should you choose to ignore these reasonable demands:

  • 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 right after the given deadline calling on you to accept the workers’ demands.
  • We will publicise on social media the ills of outsourcing and the stories of the workers who suffer the consequences of insufficient holiday, sick pay, paternity and maternity pay.
  • We will make and distribute videos where workers and supporters articulate the exploitation of being outsourced at Goldsmiths University.
  • We will be contacting the press to tell them about the two tier workforce at Goldsmiths University, 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.
  • We will be holding loud and disruptive protests. Indeed the first one will be scheduledright after the given deadline if we don’t have a positive response, which should see a few hundred people outside Goldsmiths.
  • The outsourced workers are ready to go on strike over their various demands if needed.
  • We will be flyering Goldsmiths University events to inform the public of the University’s exploitative practices.
  • Write to Goldsmiths donors and famous alumni to inform them of the exploitative working conditions of outsourced workers at the university and highlight the fact that the people who keep the university secure are exploited and treated like second class workers.

You and your colleagues may or may not be familiar with the IWGB and the campaigns this union has waged and is currently waging. However lest you have any doubts about the union’s track record on waging and winning campaigns, it might be worth your while to peruse the union’s website, the current campaign at the University of London at Senate House, including the current boycott, and the history and press coverage of the 3 Cosas Campaign at the University of London (http://3cosascampaign.wordpress.com/press- reports/).

In closing, I would advise that Goldsmiths not question the determination of the IWGB to achieve justice in this matter. There is nothing that the union treats with more seriousness and urgency than achieving improved wages, terms, and conditions for its members.

The workers at Goldsmiths University and the IWGB more generally look forward to receiving your response.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Kind regards,

Henry Chango Lopez
President
IWGB