Dear Mike and Ghaz,I am writing on behalf of Bouygues staff employed at the University of London to request clarity regarding recent announcements affecting the contract.The 19 October 2018 intranet announcement stated that the ‘Buildings maintenance contract in house bid to be prepared and tested against external suppliers in 2019′.Obviously this has caused a great deal of speculation and anxiety for me and my colleagues, and we would therefore like you to confirm:1. Who will be covered by this in-house bid?2. When this will take place?3. Why a bid is necessary when other workers are being taken directly in-house without going through a process of this sort?In the interests of staff morale is is extremely important to have clear information regarding this issue as soon as possible, so I would appreciate a swift response.Best wishesJohn BarnettIWGB union rep, Maintenance Section
The University of London was the final destination for last week’s ‘Rise of the Precarious Workers’ protest organised by the Independent Workers of Union Great Britain (IWGB).
Hundreds of minicab drivers, foster care workers, electricians, couriers, cleaners, security officers and supporters took over the streets of London in what was Britain’s largest march by precarious workers.
It was timed to coincide with the latest round of the union’s court case against Uber over worker status for its drivers. The march also serviced as another strike by outsourced workers at the University of London as they fight to be brought in-house in the face of the continued stalling by the institution.
The university’s latest position is for a few (overwhelmingly male) workers to come in-house next year, Meanwhile, cleaners, caterers and other outsourced workers are left in limbo. These brave men and women have vowed that until they receive confirmation of an end to outsourcing by June 2019 (almost two years after the campaign began) they will continue to escalate their struggle!
A number or organisations, politicians, academics and other trade unions are solidly behind IWGB and its members. Even the media has shown sympathy for the plight of these precarious workers and the protest was extensively covered in the national and local media including the Guardian and Evening Standard. Also see Momentum video here , and photos from the the day here.
I am writing briefly in response to the email below, the tone of which I am afraid I find disappointing.
While I completely agree that professionalism, respect and mutual trust and indeed laudable principles on which to base an institution’s culture, I don’t see how that can be squared with the reality of the University of London.
Currently, predominantly BME outsourced workers at the University suffer much worse terms and conditions than their mostly white directly employed counterparts. This is blatant discrimination and incompatible with the principles you outline.
In addition, the main outsourcing company Cordant have been allowed to employ first a manager that was an open supporter of the far right, and now another manager who has been accused by no fewer than 3 women of blatantly racist, sexist and homophobic behaviour and yet remains in post. These women continue to work in fear on a daily basis, a fact difficult to square with any declaration that no member of staff should work ‘in an environment where they feel uncomfortable’.
Finally, while it’s definitely a positive development that you have met with the cleaners, it is worth bearing in mind that they have just voted 100% yes for strike action following the failure of the University to engage with them.
It is these predominantly middle-aged Latina cleaners, along with your own security officers, who will be forming the bedrock of the 30 October demonstration. When UCU struck earlier this year for 14 days the University continued as usual with no additional security – yet when low-paid migrant workers take action this is cause for a massive lockdown and pre-emptive yet vague accusations of intimidation. This can only be seen as further double standards.
As stated in numerous emails, the IWGB as the chosen union of these workers remains open for negotiation. All of our offers have been ignored. Until the University engages in dialogue to end its discriminatory employment practices there will continue to be strikes and demonstrations, and we believe it’s clear the responsibility for any disruption clearly lies with the side that refuses to negotiate.
University of London IWGB
From: Fiona Bernardone On Behalf Of Vice Chancellor
Sent: 26 October 2018 10:11
To: Central-University <email@example.com>
Subject: Message from the Vice-Chancellor
I have now met with most of the heads of member institutions and I have been impressed by their support for the University, and their wish to work closely with us. They all see membership of the University as a benefit to their institution. This is important when considering the University of London Bill which is currently passing through Parliament. The Bill establishes member institutions as universities in their own right. It was debated in the House of Commons last week and successfully passed through its second reading and now progresses on to the Bills Committee. Each Head sees the Bill as a means of consolidation within the federal university.
Evidence for this came from a recent visit by Chris Cobb and I to Paris. We were invited by Professor Ed Byrne, President of KCL and Deputy VC UoL, to attend the signing of a preliminary agreement between KCL and the Founding Institutions of the University of Paris for a strategic partnership. Ed was generous in his speech in emphasising UoL’s presence at the ceremony and the opportunities from closer working between the two federal universities. You will be aware of the University of London in Paris which I visited for the first time in the afternoon. It is an impressive building superbly located in the centre of the city. Our exploration with Member Institutions about how we may utilise this “asset in Europe” post Brexit has been met with considerable interest and positive proposals.
As you will have read, the Board of Trustees have firmly supported our plan for Facilities Management Services (intranet post here). I am conscious that this is a matter that has generated strong feelings, some of which have been expressed in communications directed at me and my executive team in a tone that I have found personally disappointing.
I am mindful of the planned demonstration on 30th October and of the feelings that some of you have expressed in relation to the impact of previous demonstrations at the University. In this regard I would wish to echo the message expressed toward the end of the recent intranet post on this matter, that is, that I do not expect any member of staff to work in an environment where they feel uncomfortable.
My background as a doctor is one of professionalism, respect and mutual trust. I have previously worked closely elsewhere with colleagues and recognised representatives to foster a culture based on these principles. I will carry on with this approach here at UoL. I am continuing to visit the University’s departments and meet staff to enable as many as possible to connect with me directly. I have come in early to Senate House on a number of occasions to meet the cleaners and porters. I am constantly impressed by everyone’s very evident loyalty and commitment to the community of the University, whatever their background and would like to thank you all for the welcome you have given me.
Calling all IWGB members. We urgently need your help with next week’s strike / march / demo.
On Tuesday 30 October, we are doing the same as last year (except hopefully bigger) and combining an outsourced worker strike at the University of London (as part of the in-house campaign) with the Uber tribunal appeal (as well as other stop-offs) so that we can maximise numbers and make as big an impact as possible on each employer. See full details here.
In order for this to be successful we need the support of as many UoL people as possible. It would be fantastic if you could lend your support by taking the morning off work, or even just come in late.
We’ll be assembling at TFL (197 Blackfriars Road, Southwark tube) at around 8-8.30am. If you have any questions please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a result of this we will not be holding the monthly branch meeting scheduled for 31 October. Anyone who was planning to come to this, should join the march instead where we can hopefully cover some informal union business there!
Over the next few weeks, BBC’s Newsnight programme is running a series of episodes looking at how to ‘fix’ some key areas of our changing economy.
Last night (22 October), it focused on the so-called ‘gig’ economy. During the segment, a roving reporter spoke to a range of people who have to cope with precarious pay and worker rights, as well as Dr Jason Moyer Lee, general secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB). He spoke about the gig economy in general and Uber’s policy and business model in particular.
The University of London (UoL) is introducing its first race equality group “in recognition of the under-representation of black and minority ethnic staff in senior levels”. Membership is open to everyone at UoL and participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and insights to help the university improve its “working practices and promote a positive and inclusive workplace culture”.
The launch, which takes place on 24 October in Chancellor’s Hall, 1.30–3pm, includes a presentation by Jannett Morgan, associate director for Advance HE’s Diversifying Academic Leadership programme. She will discuss the empowerment and promotion of talented people from under-represented groups. See details here.
David Kalanzi (left), the recently elected black and minority ethnic (BME) officer for the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain’s University of London (UoL) branch, says he excited to take on the role, the first of its kind for the union. Below, he explains why he volunteered for a position that sends a fundamental message. Continue reading
Cuts hurt all of us. This is made clear in the letter below from IWGB chair Sarah Anderson to Phil Norrey, chief executive and head of paid services at Devon County Council. She is calling on all IWGB members to support foster care workers by writing to Mr Norrey (Phil.email@example.com) who, while pocketing an annual salary of at least £149,995, is overseeing a policy that is bringing in salary cuts for the council’s foster care workers.
Dear Mr Norrey,
I am writing to you in support of the Devon County Council foster care workers. Like foster care workers across UK these people have not been listened to and their views have not been taken into account. It is patently unfair that many of these workers who have dedicated their incredible energy and devotion to the young people in their care are now facing unjustified salary cuts. Like everyone else foster care workers need to eat too.
As you will no doubt be aware foster care workers right across the country are coming together as part of the IWGB in historic proportions, they are saying enough is enough.
I am calling on you to declare NO CUTS, NO CHANGE.
Sarah Anderson BSc (Hons)
In an ‘open letter’ to Professor Peter Kopelman, the University of London’s new interim vice-chancellor, IWGB organiser and press officer Emiliano Mellino details his disappointment at the institution’s recent announcement about the future of the university’s out-sourced workers. Continue reading