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

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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

FM Services Review: IWGB responds to the Vice-Chancellor — February 7, 2018

FM Services Review: IWGB responds to the Vice-Chancellor

See below for an email from IWGB General Secretary Jason Moyer-Lee to outgoing University of London Vice-Chancellor Adrian Smith:

Dear Professor Sir Adrian Smith,

I am writing to comment on the communication set out below this email from University of London regarding the University’s outsourced workers.  There’s quite a bit to comment on here, so you might want to refresh your memory by re-reading that post before continuing.

First, the charade which is the “FM Steering Group” has no legitimacy whatsoever.  I do appreciate that your PR strategy every time there is a campaign on behalf of outsourced workers is to come up with some alternative explanation of why you caved.  As a brief refresher:

  1. The £6,000 of overdue wages paid to outsourced cleaners and porters within 72 hours of an unofficial strike (and which was the main demand of the strike), was due to “negotiations”;
  2. The voluntary recognition agreement between Balfour Beatty and UNISON (back when UNISON actually had outsourced worker members) which followed on 3 weeks after the unofficial strike was also due to negotiations;
  3. Phased implementation of the London Living Wage for outsourced staff, which followed after just a few months of the UoL London Living Wage campaign, also down to “negotiations”;
  4. Increased sick pay and holiday pay for outsourced staff, following the IWGB 3 Cosas Campaign and two days of strike action called by IWGB, was somehow won by UNISON and of course, through negotiations;
  5. Following the launch of the IWGB campaign to end outsourcing at UoL in September this year, UoL suddenly announces a working group and progresses towards ending outsourcing because of this working group and the “recognised unions”.

Now believe me, I do see where you are coming from on the PR strategy- you don’t like IWGB and don’t want to legitimize IWGB, and don’t want to look like you caved to pressure, so you construct a parallel universe in which you came up with the idea to improve things for outsourced workers on your own, and in which the UoL UNISON and UCU branches are, for once, relevant to outsourced workers.  But given that PR and reputation is what you’re trying to address with the strategy, it might be worth pausing for a second to consider how utterly ridiculous you make the University look when the average bystander with even the vaguest notion of what’s going on thinks it’s a load of nonsense.

In the below note, UoL specifically mentions- again no doubt in furtherance of the PR strategy described above- the “recognised trade unions UCU and Unison”.  So it’s important to clarify that these unions have absolutely no mandate to speak on behalf of outsourced workers.  UCU doesn’t even claim to represent them, and Unison’s claims are absurd.  As the UoL is well aware, the overwhelming majority of outsourced workers at UoL are represented by the IWGB.  And many of these members made a conscious decision to leave Unison in disgust at the union’s lack of democracy and blatant collusion with management (for more on which see: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/mar/24/cost-private-contracts-universities-documents-services-workers).  Therefore, whilst it is no doubt useful to UoL to have a few stooges nodding along with everything you say, so far as representation of the views of outsourced workers is concerned, their participation in the charade of a working group has a total significance of 0.

Next in the note, UoL says it is considering two options, one of which is only in-housing some of the workers.  So let me make the IWGB position clear: this campaign will continue until all outsourced workers currently engaged by Bouygues, Cordant, Nurture, and Aramark are brought in house.  Given that the only reason in-housing is an option for UoL at all is because of this campaign, it would be nonsensical, even from a purely self-interest perspective, for UoL to only bring some workers in house.  That will not stop the campaign.  Indeed it will encourage the campaign to step up its actions as UoL will have proved beyond doubt (yet again) that campaigning gets results.

With regard to the assurances the Board of Trustees requested of the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group, we of course have no problem with fiscal discipline.  Indeed it’s one of the best arguments for cutting your bloated salary which, by even generous methods of interpretation, you could not possibly be worth.  However, any moves by UoL to make staff redundant, cut workers’ hours against their will, change workers’ shifts against their will, or put previously outsourced staff on inferior terms and conditions to their other direct employee colleagues, will be strongly opposed by IWGB.  If your plan is to make the outsourced workers pay for their own improvements, I suggest you think again.  And again, the campaign will not stop if any of the above occurs.

It is ironic that one of the Board’s concerns was protecting day to day operations.  Continued outsourcing is by far the biggest threat to day to day operations.  This is due to the number of strikes by these workers which are occurring as a result, and because the longer you leave these contracts in the hands of the incompetent contractors- who would struggle to find their way out of a paper bag let alone run facilities management companies- the longer these contracts will be run incompetently.

In sum, by all means continue with your paper trail, working groups, consideration of options, etc.- although if cost-saving is a concern, cutting down on the amount of hyperbolic fluff might be a good start.  With the wages paid for just the time it’s taken you and the other managers involved to read this email we could probably cover a handful of cleaners’ occupational sick pay entitlement under UoL terms for a year.  I look forward to reading the announcement in March that UoL, its working group, the recognised unions, have all come to the conclusion that everyone should be in-housed on UoL terms and conditions.

Kind regards,

Jason Moyer-Lee
General Secretary
IWGB

Original message: 

As described at the ASM held on 17 January, the University’s Board of Trustees considered a progress report from the FM Steering Group at its meeting yesterday. The Steering Group, which includes representation from the recognised trade unions UCU and Unison, recommended that two options are considered further:
a) in-sourcing and b) a hybrid of in-house/outsourced provision.

The Board of Trustees approved the recommendations and noted that some level of contracted support would still be likely to ensure flexibility/scalability, independent inspection and specialist capacity. This level of detail will be developed over the coming weeks for a final recommendation to the Board.​

The Board of Trustees asked the Vice-Chancellor’s Executive Group to ensure that:

      • The bottom line on the University budgets is not affected by any changes to the current arrangements, i.e. any increase in costs must be dealt with through savings, reduced service levels or reductions in other activity.
      • That the University’s day to day operations are not put at risk during implementation of changes to contracts.

Next Steps

While we wait for the feedback from the two surveys (contracted staff and University staff), work will be undertaken to develop variations on the options mentioned above to establish what a hybrid model could look like. This will be developed and costed alongside more detailed costings for an in-sourcing option. A full risk assessment will also be undertaken for the different approaches which will factor both time and milestone events such as the ability to recruit management and implement systems in order to bring work in-house.

The FM Steering Group will continue to meet in February and early March to consider the survey feedback and progress on the options analysis. The intention is to bring recommendations to the Board of Trustees meeting on 21 March 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Outsourced workers closing in on victory at the University Of London — January 18, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Outsourced workers closing in on victory at the University Of London

We heard back yesterday from the University of London, who are currently conducting a review of all of their outsourced services.

They announced that they have narrowed down the options they will present to the Board of Trustees from seven to two.

The 2 options are:

  1. MIXED ECONOMY –  bring some of the contracts in-house
  2. FULLY IN-HOUSE – bring all of the contracts in house!

This is another massive step forward for the campaign – since it began in September last year the University of London has completely shifted its position, from being committed to maintaining the status quo of contracting out all its soft and hard services to being on the verge of bringing everyone back in house!

The University will be surveying all staff in Feb, and then a final decision on which of these options to pursue will be taken in March by the BoT.

The IWGB’s position remains the same – the campaign will not stop until ALL WORKERS ARE BACK IN HOUSE!

The next strike and protest will be Thursday 25 January (https://www.facebook.com/events/391189084639287) – please come and help keep up the pressure until the University finally agrees to treat all its staff equally!

Protest! End Outsourcing, Zero Hours and Low Pay at UoL – Tuesday 21 November — November 15, 2017

Protest! End Outsourcing, Zero Hours and Low Pay at UoL – Tuesday 21 November

Next Tuesday 21 November, on Foundation Day, we’ll be staging a strike and protest to demand that the UoL workers are brought back in-house.

It’s really important to get as many supporters there as possible – so please come down for a 6pm start!

AND if you’d like to help with flyering in the run-up to the event, get in touch with Danny! We will be flyering on Friday at Senate House – if you would like to do a shift do just email dannymillum@iwgb.org.uk.

Outsourced workers at the University of London are fighting to be brought back in-house, to end zero-hours contracts and for pay rises.

Join them on 21 November at 6pm at Senate House as they strike and protest during the visit of University of London Chancellor Princess Anne. They will be united in one voice to give her the message: IN-HOUSE NOW!

Workers have been on strike for months demanding that the university end the discriminatory two-tier system which currently sees them employed by contractors on far worse terms and conditions than other staff. Outsourced workers are also more likely to suffer from harassment, bullying and discrimination than their colleagues that are directly employed by the university.

Outsourced workers are predominantly migrant and BME, while in-house staff are mostly white British. There could be no clearer example of the ongoing institutionalised discrimination in our educational institutions than this.

Following a series of strikes, demos, videos, supporters’ letters and petitions the university has announced that it is reviewing all its outsourced contracts – now is a key moment to ensure that the outcome of this review is IN-HOUSE NOW!

Workers will be striking during the day, and then assembling for a massive demonstration at Senate House starting at 6pm.

Please share this event widely – any questions just email uol@iwgb.org.uk or call 07783719479.

https://www.facebook.com/events/896148920559566/

#UolBackinHouse

 

 

To all of our supporters – University of London admits using zero-hour contracts — November 10, 2017

To all of our supporters – University of London admits using zero-hour contracts

To all of you who have written to the University of London in support of our in-house campaign – many thanks!

Many of you will have received a stock response from the University, which contains a startling number of inaccuracies.

The worst of these is that the University claimed their contractors DID NOT USE ZERO HOUR CONTRACTS.

However, when presented with the evidence that this was untrue, they have been forced to retract this, with a reply from the University Secretary stating: ‘I’ve looked into this and will remove it from our responses in future’.

The fact that the University allows zero-hour contracts to be used is bad enough. The fact that it has been hiding this is even worse.

Please do feel free to let the University (Vice-Chancellor@london.ac.uk cc’ing uolbackinhouse@iwgb.org.uk) know what you think of this – a draft response is below.

Dear Kim

Many thanks for getting back to me, although there are a few issues with your response that I would like to clarify

1. You state that your contractors do not use zero hours contracts. In fact:

a) The majority of Aramark employees are on zero-hour contracts

b) A significant number of Cordant cleaners are on zero-hour contracts

c) A number of Cordant security officers are still on 336-annual-hours-contracts, which are the equivalent of zero-hour contracts

Furthermore, you have now admitted that zero hours contracts ARE used – at what point did you become aware of this?

2. Holiday and sick pay arrangements:

a) In-house employees receive 6 months full pay and 6 months half-pay. Outsourced workers receive 6 months full pay only (both subject to service).

b) In-house employees receive a minimum of 27 days, outsourced 25 days (subject to service, excluding bank holidays).

c) In-house employees receive on average each year 6 additional University days.

3. The promise to maintain the differential was made by yourself, in writing and guarantees that the differential would be maintained. There is no mention at all that this would be a temporary state of affairs, nor would it be logical to initially maintain a differential and afterwards to abandon it.

4. To say that you have seen no evidence of illegal deductions from pay, bullying or discrimination is extremely disingenuous – you have not seen them because you have deliberately looked the other way. The IWGB union has handled literally dozens of cases of exactly this sort with the University’s contractors, and would be happy to provide a breakdown should you so wish.

5. I note that you do not address the issue of pensions – presumably because you recognise that the University has no case here at all. The difference between the outsourced pension employer contribution (1% in the case of Cordant) and the SAUL contribution (13%) is enormous (although the contribution to your own USS pension is of course even higher). There is no justification at all why a predominantly BME workforce should receive the former, and a predominantly white workforce the latter – this is quite simply discriminatory.

We hope this clarifies why we and others will continue to support this campaign, and we would urge the University that, rather than continuing to drag out this process and besmirch its own reputation further while conducting this face-saving review, it instead recognises the inevitable and commits immediately to bringing all its employees in-house.

IWGB serves notice of industrial action to Cordant at UoL — November 7, 2017

IWGB serves notice of industrial action to Cordant at UoL

IWGB has served Cordant Services with notice of industrial action on Tuesday 21 November. Our members among the porters, postroom staff and security officers at the University of London will be out on strike, due to our dispute with Cordant over pay differentials.

This strike coincides with our day of action for the campaign to end outsourcing at the University of London. Please join us – there’s a Facebook page for our protest that day here: https://www.facebook.com/events/896148920559566/

If you can’t make it on the 21st, please consider taking five minutes to write to Vice Chancellor Adrian Smith, letting him know what you think of UoL and Cordant’s treatment of outsourced workers: http://mailchi.mp/8d61a9f1968f/help-outsourced-workers-at-the-university-of-london-9703

You can keep up to date with the latest campaign news here: https://www.facebook.com/JusticeforUOLWorkers/

Planes Campaña Back in House — October 18, 2017

Planes Campaña Back in House

Semana 16 Octubre: Danny más otros activistas van a pedir a los empleados directos de la universidad que rellenen una petición apoyando la campaña y exigiendole a la universidad que contrate directamente a los trabajadores que ahora están tercerizados.

Semana 23 Octubre: Mesas de información/piquetes fuera de Senate House, con volantes, musica, banderas, musica. Vamos a tener al menos 10 trabajadores, empleados directos, tercerizados, estudiantes y activistas cubriendo dosturnos cada dia – el de la mañana (12:00-14:00) y tarde (16:45-18:30). Yo estare dando los turnos a los reps y activistas esta semana y preparare también volantes (que incluirán testimonios por parte de los trabajadores) esta proxima semana.

23 Octubre 15:30: Reunion con los reps de la campaña en el bar del Insitute of Education.

25 Octubre 17:00: Reunion con estudiantes de UCL que quieren lanzar una campaña para apoyar a los trabajadores externalizados de University of London.

Semana 6 Noviembre: Lanzamos nuevos videos de campaña que incluyen entrevistas con estudiantes y cleaners. Hablare tambien con Novara Media a ver si ellos tambien pueden hacer un video.

Semana 13 Noviembre: Hacemos todas las preparaciones necesarias para la protesta que haremos en Foundation Day.

21 Noviembre: PROTESTA DEL FOUNDATION DAY Y DE LA VISITA DE LA PRINCESA ANNA! Security, recepcionistas, porters y la sala de correos hacen huelga y piquete a partir de las 14:00. A las 18:00 TODOS, – incluidos los cleaners, estudiantes y activistas – Lanzan la protesta principal fuera Senate House. ¡Todos deberiamos traer cacerolas y ollas (y tapones), para hacer un mega cacerolazo recontra ruidoso! Ponganse en contacto conmigo si tienen otras ideas para la protesta.

Buenas noticias sobre la campaña ‘In-House’ —

Buenas noticias sobre la campaña ‘In-House’

Mensaje de Danny:

Acabamos de asistir a la reunión de todos los trabajadores de la universidad. Hablaron mucho sobre la revisión que están haciendo de los subcontratos. Van a considerar todo, incluyendo pagos y términos y condiciones. Esto, obviamente, son buenas noticias.

Una de las cosas que van a hacer es contactar a los trabajadores subcontratados –si y cuando los contacten, por favor avísennos- necesitamos asegurarnos de que todos demos el mismo mensaje – IN HOUSE AHORA!

También tengo mi primera reunión con Kim Frost el 3 de noviembre. Obviamente voy a hacer que este sea el tema más importante.