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

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EU settlement scheme —

EU settlement scheme

As the UK prepares to leave the European Union many higher education institutions are showing their commitment to staff by confirming they will pay the settlement fees of all EU employees wanting to stay in the UK after Brexit. In a letter to the University of London’s director of HR services, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain call for the university to follow suit.    Continue reading

New job opportunity: caseworker (maternity leave cover) — January 4, 2019

New job opportunity: caseworker (maternity leave cover)

The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is currently looking for a new caseworker to work from its London office for £11.55 per hour, with hours yet to be discussed. The position will be temporary to cover a staff members’ maternity leave. Therefore, the person should be able to start in mid to late January and end on 14 June.

The role

The main responsibilities of the post are to:

  • manage a varied caseload, chiefly of disciplinaries, grievances, and deduction of wages claims, but also entering into other areas of law as required by the diverse and changing membership (e.g. licensing issues for private hire drivers)
  • assist with preparation of tribunal cases (and may develop into running such cases) help to maintain the smooth operation of the IWGB legal department maintain data management processes and keep members informed while acting in accordance with their needs
  • assist the general secretary and other legal department colleagues with other tasks appropriate to the post
  • undertake any other duties appropriate to the post and help other staff maintain the smooth running of the union’s head office.

Person specification

Essential

  • Have a high level of spoken Spanish
  • Have experience of employment-related case work.
  • Grasp the IWGB’s approach and be personally committed to social justice and the improvement of working conditions.
  • Have good computer skills, including a knowledge of MS Office including Excel.
  • Have a high level of personal organisation and an ability to deal with a demanding and stressful job.
  • Be able to work independently and in a team

Desirable

  • Have been an active member of a union or have knowledge of the trade union movement.

How to apply

Please email your CV and a cover letter explaining why you feel you would fit this role to Seb Flais at sebastienflais@iwgb.co.uk by no later than 12pm on 10 January.

Please also include the details of two professional references.

Health Education England (HEE) TUPE transfer proposals – report from the emergency ICE forum — January 3, 2019

Health Education England (HEE) TUPE transfer proposals – report from the emergency ICE forum

Below is an an update from the ICE forum following the emergency meeting held just before Christmas.

Attached are some answers to the questions submitted prior to the meeting, and below is the relevant section from the minutes which provides some more detail as to the proposals and their implications.

It is clear from the responses that we have had so far from the university that:

  1. many aspects of these proposals remain to be finalised
  2. the hniversity / HEE have not yet explored the option of having the government assume these HMRC liabilities
  3. these plans will have a negative impact on staff pensions
  4. these plans are being rushed (particularly in comparison with the continued delay over the FM services in-housing process) and if carried out by April, will cause massive stress and disruption for staff at the busiest time of the year

The university has asked that further questions / response are submitted by the end of the week.

The IWGB ICE reps plan to respond that until the issues referred to above are resolved, the process should be halted – but please do send us any additional questions or feedback. Bear in mind that we do not necessarily have to adhere to the university’s deadline!

HEE discussion

The ICE Forum considered the request from HEE to transfer the services currently provided by University-employed staff to HEE with effect from 1 April 2019, which required the university to release HEE from its requirement to provide 12-months’ notice to exit the Memorandum of Understanding between the University and HEE.

SC reported that HEE had formally made its request in mid-November 2018.

SC reported that a number of queries raised by Forum members had already been addressed in the confidential Briefing Note that had been circulated prior to the meeting. Any further questions should be submitted, as soon as possible, to ZM for a prompt response.

SC clarified that due diligence work would only begin in advance of the TUPE consultation, which itself had yet to start. At that time, the university would consider a number of matters, including its duty to care to staff affected and the potential implications for their pay, conditions and benefits.

SC clarified that any decision to review London weighting would not affect staff transferred to HEE. It was also reported that transferred staff would no longer be members of the Senate House Branches of UCU/Unison. However, it was understood that there was a trade union structure in place at HEE. SC clarified that staff, once transferred, would be subject to HEE’s established consultation arrangements.

SC reported that, in considering the existing arrangements between the university and HEE, it was estimated that the university would bear a net loss of £150k per year following the transfer of staff.

SC indicated that affected staff could apply for vacancies elsewhere within the university. If successful in their applications, they would remain employed by the university.

SC noted that the board of trustees, at its meeting on 28 November 2018, had agreed to delegate its authority to the vice-chancellor to respond to HEE on behalf of the university.

SC reported that the forum was being asked, at this time, to only provide any further feedback on the request to transfer staff to HEE on 1 April 2019 and that the forum’s feedback would inform the vice-chancellor in his reply to HEE in January 2019.

The forum noted the financial benefits to HEE to complete the staff transfer by

1 April 2019. However, it was suggested that the university should not be held to the timeline proposed by HEE. SC would consider the following relevant matters to inform on the reply from the vice-chancellor to HEE:

It was reported that the work of HEE was at its busiest from January to March and urged that work on the transfer of staff, which included the due diligence work and the TUPE consultation, should take place during the summer months.

TH noted that, in view of the amount of time that the university was taking to carefully consider the impact of bringing back outsourced workers, the university should also adopt a similar approach to this matter and take as much time as it needed.

 

Breaking news! IWGB submits formal request for recognition on behalf of UCL security officers — January 2, 2019

Breaking news! IWGB submits formal request for recognition on behalf of UCL security officers

Happy New Year! Starting 2019 as we mean to go on, the IWGB has just banged in a recognition request to Axis, the outsourced security company at UCL. Axis currently don’t recognise any unions, but with rapid growth in membership among security officers at UCL the IWGB has now been able to submit a formal request for voluntary recognition.

Axis have 10 days to respond – they can either agree to the request or refuse it. Should they take the latter option then the IWGB would then be able to apply for statutory recognition.

Either way, we are confident that this will be our branch’s first ever recognition agreement, which will further strengthen our capacity to support our members as they fight for better terms and conditions at UCL.

For those interested in the process more details are here (https://www.gov.uk/trade-union-recognition-employers), and the letter itself follows:

Dear John
This email constitutes a formal request by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain for voluntary trade union recognition under Schedule A1 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.
The request is to cover the bargaining unit which consists of all Axis Security Services Limited employees employed on the University College London security management contract.
We look forward to your response.
Best wishes
Danny
Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB
IWGB general secretary invites UoL vice-chancellor to join boycott — December 10, 2018

IWGB general secretary invites UoL vice-chancellor to join boycott

Dear vice-chancellor Kopelman,

I’m writing to inform you, in case you’ve missed it on Twitter, of our boycott of the University of London (UoL). The boycott, which has already garnered an incredible amount of public support, ranging from the National Union of Students to the co-leader of the Green Party, the Shadow Chancellor, and Ken Loach, will continue until such time as all outsourced workers are brought in house on equal terms and conditions to their directly employed colleagues.

Given that we are signing up academics and institutions, I’d also like to invite you to join up. You can do so here. This is a great opportunity for you to get on the right side of history.

I appreciate that this may create a logistical conundrum for you as you work at Senate House, but being the progressive and modern institution that UoL intends to be, surely it could make some working from home arrangements for you?  Further, when the dust settles on this whole thing, at least you’ll have something to fall back on lest you be accused of presiding over the worst reputational damage in the history of the institution during your very short tenure.

Going from awarding Nelson Mandela his distance degree to being boycotted by trade unions, student unions, academics, and leading figures on the British left over unfair treatment of predominantly BME workers is quite a steep fall.

Either way, there is and always has been a very easy way out of this mess: bring the workers in house now!

Kindest of regards,

Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
IWGB

Party on with IWGB —

Party on with IWGB

It’s that time of year again when employees up and down the country are getting into gear for the office Christmas party. Some people love the opportunity to kick loose, while others view the annual bash as an ordeal to suffer rather than celebrate.

For members of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) the festive ‘works do’ it an eagerly anticipated event – a time to glam up, let your hair down and brush off the stresses of the year at least for a few hours.

And, if every picture really does tell a story, that is exactly what happened at this year’s Christmas party. Happy holidays!

Academics, students and politicians to boycott University of London —

Academics, students and politicians to boycott University of London

More than 100 academics, politicians and others are backing a boycott of the University of London, including the iconic Senate House building, over the institution’s continued use of outsourced workers to provide essential services.

The supporters of the boycott, which include shadow chancellor John McDonnell MP, the National Union of Students and several high-profile professors, are demanding that the university end outsourcing and directly employ the outsourced workers that provide cleaning, catering, security and other services.

A full list of current signatories to the boycott will be found on the page http://www.boycottsenatehouse.com and https://iwgb.org.uk/boycottsenatehouse from Monday 10 December.

Outsourced workers at the University of London have been campaigning to be made direct employees with equal terms and conditions as other staff for over a year. These workers – who have worse sick pay, holiday pay, maternity pay and pension contributions than directly employed staff – have taken up to 15 days of strike action.

Instead of agreeing to negotiate with the workers, the majority of which are migrant and BME, the university has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on heightened security in an attempt to stave off industrial action and protests. More information here, here and here.

After initially stating that it would bring services in-house last May, the university has now gone back on its commitment, only guaranteeing that a small portion of the workforce will be made direct employees by this summer.

The bulk of outsourced workers – maintenance, cleaners and catering – will remain outsourced at least until their contracts are up for tender in 2019, 2020 and 2021. At that point an in-house bid will be presented alongside other commercial bids, leaving the door open for the workers to remain outsourced indefinitely.

In the meantime, outsourced workers continue to suffer under a regime of bullying and discrimination. In 2018, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain handled over 50 complaints on behalf of outsourced workers a the University of London. Notably the IWGB raised a complaint in July when it discovered that a senior manager of outsourcing company Cordant was supporter of the far right.

In October, the IWGB raised a separate complaint when the university failed to act after three separate women brought complaints of sexism and homophobia against a separate Cordant manager.

London School of Economics Anthropology Professor Dr David Graeber said: “It is completely reprehensible that people that provide such an essential service continue to be treated as second class workers by the University of London. As academics who benefit from the work of the cleaners, catering staff and other outsourced workers, we have a moral duty to stand in solidarity with them and boycott the university until it ensures that they are given the same terms and conditions as other staff.”

University of London cleaner Margarita Cunalata said: “For over a year, we have been asking the university to respect us as equal members of staff, yet it has made clear that it sees us as less than human. We have sent letters, we have been on protests and we have gone on strike, but the university doesn’t even have the basic decency to sit down with us and negotiate. We are tremendously grateful that academics are willing to support our fight by boycotting the university until it makes us direct employees.”

Kings College London Lecturer Nick Srnick said: “At a time when university Vice Chancellor pay is surging across the country, it is an outrage that the least well-off workers of the university continue to face a situation of hyper-exploitation and abuse. Yet there’s an easy solution to immediately improve the lives of the workers that keep the university running: join numerous other universities in bringing them back in-house and paying them a decent wage.”

The boycott asks supporters to not attend or organise events at the University of London central administration, which besides Senate House includes Stewart House, The School of Advanced Studies, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and Student Central (formerly ULU).

Events make up a significant proportion of the university’s income. According to its latest financial report, the University of London made GBP 43m from residences, catering and conferences in the year ending July 2018.

IWGB announces Brexit position — November 27, 2018

IWGB announces Brexit position

Following our discussion at the September branch meeting on Brexit, the motion was passed by the IWGB Executive Committee – see below for a letter from our general secretary:

Dear Members,
 
I’m writing to inform you of our position on Brexit, which we will be announcing publicly.  Before the referendum the IWGB had a policy to support Remain, mainly due to concern over our large contingent of membership working in the UK on EU passports and due to concerns over the impact of Brexit on EU-derived employment law.  There are four key areas where Brexit, in particular a hard Brexit, is likely to have detrimental impacts on the IWGB and our members:
 
1. Immigration. Nearly all of the Cleaners and Facilities Branch members are here on EU passports.  A huge proportion of the University of London Branch members are as well.  Some members in all of the other branches, including Couriers and UPHD, will be too.  And 50% of our staff are here on EU passports.  Restrictions on free movement could make it harder for them to bring family members over, or depending on the type of Brexit, hard for them even to stay in this country.  Further, the environment and discourse around immigration has become increasingly toxic, with Brexit greatly contributing to this toxicity.
 
2. Employment law. A large number of employment rights are derived from EU law.  The importance of EU law is that: (i) in some cases it introduces rights which didn’t previously exist in the UK (e.g. paid holidays), (ii) the law is ultimately interpreted by an EU court which on the whole is more progressive and pro-worker than UK courts, and (iii) EU law in effect supersedes domestic law, so the Tories are unable to shred employment rights that come from the EU, even with a supermajority.  The IWGB relies on EU law rights to defend members on a daily basis, e.g. paid holidays, protection from discrimination, TUPE, etc.  EU law also forms a central plank to various branches’ legal strategies, e.g. the ICE regulations which are used in UoL branch.  Further, the foster care branches’ current legal strategy is largely dependent on EU law superseding UK law.
 
3. Economy.  There is a virtual consensus among economists that a hard Brexit will result in an economic shock and a big decrease in government revenues.  We know from past experience that those who bear the biggest brunt of any economic shock and cuts in government spending are low-paid workers, e.g. our members, who have already had to struggle against the austerity agenda.  This will inevitably be the same with any negative economic impact from Brexit.  
 
4. Inability of Government to get anything done.  Brexit is all consuming and Parliament is hard pressed to focus on anything that isn’t Brexit-related.  This is particularly the case when Parliament and the current government are focusing on creating a new arrangement rather than choosing an off-the-shelf option such as remaining in the single market and adopting EU law into UK law, which would require much less change.  The IWGB needs Parliament to be able to engage with non-Brexit issues, e.g. a central plank of the foster care strategy is to get Parliament to pass legislation regulating the industry.  Similarly, we are calling on legislation on behalf of UPHD branch to give more powers to licensing bodies in particular to cap private hire driver license numbers.
 
The trade union movement is becoming increasingly vocal on these issues.  The TUC has called for a soft Brexit and a referendum on the final deal if it looks like the deal won’t be in the interests of workers, GMB has called for a referendum on the final deal, UNITE has left open the option of another referendum, etc.  Although the IWGB is not a big player, we are of the size and profile to have an influence on certain sections of the public.  Therefore, our taking a position could contribute, in albeit a small way, to a concrete result which (as outlined above) would directly benefit our members.  
 
For these reasons the IWGB Executive Committee voted overwhelmingly to adopt the following position:
 

1.       The people should be given a vote on the final Brexit deal.

2.       Failing the above, Brexit should take the softest possible form, in particular by remaining in the single market with the institution’s protections for free movement and by incorporation of EU-derived employment law.

To help make our case we have made this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKf_b0QeWwE&feature=youtu.be, which we will be pushing on social media tomorrow.  I have also written an article for the Guardian on the employment law aspects of the proposed deal.
 
Kind regards,
Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
IWGB

http://iwgb.org.uk/
T: 02034907530; 02035383720
M: 07771783094