What it’s like to get sick as an outsourced worker at UCL … — March 11, 2020

What it’s like to get sick as an outsourced worker at UCL …

Earlier this year, two outsourced security staff at UCL had to take time off work after each of them was badly injured outside of work. This has revealed just how poorly UCL supports its outsourced staff when they become sick.

One of these security officers, David Kikupi, has asked us to share his story so that his colleagues, friends, members of the UCL community and supporters of our campaign to end outsourcing are aware of just how bad the situation can get.

David in St Mary's HospitalDavid in St Mary’s hospital with a colleague

A couple of friends from work asked if I would write a letter describing what has happened to me recently – what has kept me away from work. They said I should detail what happened, the effect it has had on my life, the difficulties it has caused me and what I feel about these experiences.

But first of all, a bit of background. My family is in Kenya. I came to the UK when I was 20 to build my life here. I’m now 42. The UK and London in particular, is my home. For just over 10 years now I have worked as a security officer at University College London. Firstly for one security outsourcing company, then when they left I chose to stay at UCL and take employment with the new security outsourcing company. Just as I have made London my home I see UCL as my place of work.

Early in December I travelled to Kenya to visit my mother and the rest of the family. It was while driving in Nairobi that I had an accident. A collision with another car that turned out quite bad. My foot was badly mangled and required major surgery to put it back together. It was clear from the start I’d be in hospital for a long time and would need many operations to repair the damage to the foot.

If this accident had happened in the UK, although serious, it wouldn’t have caused me the problems it has. The initial surgery was done in a Nairobi hospital. My fiancée and I were planning our wedding for this year in the summer of 2020. I had been saving up money for our wedding. In Kenyan culture the groom is often expected to pay a dowry for the bride and I had also saved money for this. The hospital treatment, unlike in the UK, had to be paid for. And although not expensive, it was completely unexpected. All the money I had saved got used for medical bills.

This meant a very difficult conversation with Pheliciah, my fiancée. A conversation I would have given anything not to have. Our wedding has had to be put off. Naturally, she was understanding, she’s not blaming me, it wasn’t my fault, but I cannot help feeling at times that I have let her down.

Because of my financial situation, the money I had was running out, and the fact my foot would need major reconstructive surgery, I got myself discharged from the hospital in Nairobi and got a flight to London. From the airport I went straight to Barnet Hospital, then transferred to St. Mary’s, Paddington, which is a hospital specialising in major trauma injuries.

Although I was prepared to pay the rent on my London flat while on holiday, I wasn’t prepared for all this time in hospital and with funds running out I have had to let my flat go because I just cannot pay the rent. As an outsourced worker for UCL, I received a few weeks of company sick pay from the outsourcing company, after which I do not get anything other than the minimum statutory sick pay of £94.25 per week. Nowhere near enough to cover my rent, so I am now effectively homeless. Some of my colleagues from work helped me get my belongings into storage, otherwise I don’t know what I would have done. When the hospital does discharge me, they aren’t going to put me on the street, they have said they will arrange a room in a hostel.

I have my pride and this is a big come down for me. Out of a clear blue sky something completely unexpected happens. Something no one would plan for. My whole life has been turned upside down. I had my own flat in London, I had money in the bank and best of all, I was looking forward to my upcoming marriage. Now everything is up in the air. I find myself in a place I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. As I said, I have my pride, and I know I will get back on my feet. I’ll get back to work, then I’ll stop in the hostel long enough to get some money saved, get a flat, get everything back on track.

The thing I have learned from this is just how precarious life can be. Everything was going well for me and life couldn’t have been sweeter. And then, without warning, it all turns to mud.

I’m not a jealous person, but you look at your friends that work for almost any other sort of organisation, other than an outsourcing company, and you realise that if I had worked for almost any other employer I would not be in this situation. If I had got just the usual sort of sick pay everyone else seems to get, I would not have burned all my savings, I would not have lost my flat and most of all, I would have not have let my fiancée down.

But what is really galling is having spent over ten years of my life working at UCL, often 60 hours or more in a week, when something goes wrong, you realise that ultimately you are not part of the club. It doesn’t matter how the staff, in the building where I now work, try to make you feel part of the team and how much you are encouraged to identify with UCL, when things turn bad you are not part of the team at all. That’s when the reality of your employment situation hits home. Some piece of bad luck could happen to any of us UCL outsourced workers at any time and you find yourself in desperate trouble, as I have done.

UCL has employed security staff directly in the past, you’d wonder why they cannot do it again and give us security equal access to basic rights such as decent sick pay. It would have made such a difference to me.

David is now out of hospital and is staying with a relative while he recovers. He has been off work for over 2 months now and it will likely take several more months before he recovers.

David has received a few weeks company sick pay from UCL’s security subcontractor Axis at his normal rate of pay, but has now moved onto statutory sick pay at a much lower rate. This means he will have to support himself on only £94.25 per week.

The IWGB union was pleased to hear in the Autumn that UCL had promised to level up the sick pay entitlement for outsourced staff by July 2020, meaning that outsourced staff will then on receive full sick pay when sick – the equivalent entitlement to UCL employees.

However, in both David and his colleague’s cases, this would mean that they will not receive these entitlements until July. As a result, they are facing severe hardship, with neither of them able to earn their usual income.

For this reason, the IWGB union has written today to UCL’s Provost Michael Arthur and the UCL Council to ask them to speed up the implementation of improvements to sick pay for outsourced workers and to ensure that both David and his colleague receive full sick pay immediately.

This issue of poor sickness benefits is a key plank of our union’s campaign for equality and an end to outsourcing at UCL. UCL’s direct employees receive significantly better sickness entitlements than outsourced staff. It is only right that UCL’s outsourced staff receive equal terms and conditions as direct employees and UCL should act now to make improvements and end outsourcing.

In the Autumn, the university stated publicly that they disapprove of the deterioration of terms and conditions that have taken place over the years for UCL’s outsourced workforce and they wish to rectify this. Right now, two valued members of staff are suffering as a result of that deterioration. UCL has promised to improve this situation in a few months time in July, but that will be too late for these two members of UCL staff, who are being left in an extremely precarious position as a result of UCL’s policies.

There is no good reason why the improvements UCL has promised should not be sped up and implemented right away. UCL has the financial resources at its disposal. And logistically it is not complicated to extend decent sickness benefits to staff as the processes for (inadequate) company sick pay are already in place.

The only reason UCL management wishes to delay delivering these improvements is to slow down the campaign led by UCL’s outsourced workers for full equality and an end to outsourcing.

But UCL’s delay tactics must end now, there is simply too much at stake. The sick pay issue has ramifications beyond the fight for fair and just treatment for David and his colleagues. With the increasing risks posed by the spread of Coronavirus in the UK, it is vital that ALL staff have the entitlements and benefits they need to be able to take leave if they get sick. Poor conditions for outsourced staff will impact everyone in the UCL community.

UCL must act now to improve sickness entitlements for all outsourced staff.

If you support our call for decent sick pay for all staff at UCL, please write to the Provost of UCL and to the UCL Council here:

Provost: michael.arthur@ucl.ac.uk

Members of UCL Council with publicly listed email addresses: h.pikhart@ucl.ac.ukl.clapp@ucl.ac.uka.dolphin@ucl.ac.ukp.haggard@ucl.ac.uka.coker@ucl.ac.ukh.roberts@ucl.ac.uke.officer@ucl.ac.ukdoc.officer@ucl.ac.uk,

Registrar and Secretary of UCL Council: w.appleby@ucl.ac.uk,

Members of UCL senior management: m.blain@ucl.ac.ukf.fryer@ucl.ac.uk,c.tranter@ucl.ac.ukduncan.palmer@ucl.ac.ukf.ryland@ucl.ac.uk,

Many thanks for your support!

In solidarity,

The IWGB union

Join IWGB Women at the Women’s Strike March on Sunday! La Marcha de Huelga de las Mujeres para conmemorar el Día Internacional de la Mujer! — March 6, 2020

Join IWGB Women at the Women’s Strike March on Sunday! La Marcha de Huelga de las Mujeres para conmemorar el Día Internacional de la Mujer!

On Sunday, IWGB women will join the Women’s Strike March through London to mark International Women’s Day!

We will meet in Cavendish Square from 1:30pm. Look out for IWGB flags.

Bring your voices, bring your friends, bring placards, wear red!

You can see a list of events on the day, including FREE CHILDCARE available, here:

Facebook event:

Este domingo, las mujeres de IWGB nos uniremos a la Marcha de Huelga de las Mujeres para conmemorar el Día Internacional de la Mujer!

Nos reuniremos en Cavendish Square a partir de la 1:30pm. Busquen las banderas de la IWGB.

¡Traed vuestras voces, traed a vuestros amigos, traed pancartas, vestid de rojo!

Pueden ver una lista de eventos del día, incluyendo la guardería gratuita disponible, aquí:

Evento de Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/521018385486482/

Attention all members – please sign up to our new IWGB-UoL Broadcast channel —

Attention all members – please sign up to our new IWGB-UoL Broadcast channel

We have created an IWGB-UoL Broadcast channel, to keep you updated on all the news, campaigns and events of the UoL Branch (this is also free and will allow us to save on the costs of SMS messaging).

To subscribe to the channel follow the steps listed below.

1. Save the Uol branch phone number (07934462548) in your phone contacts.

2. Send a whatsapp message to this number with your full name and place of work.

3. We will add you to the channel and you are now ready to receive all the news from your branch!

Próxima reunión de la rama – miércoles 4 de marzo a las 12.30 – y otras noticias — February 28, 2020

Próxima reunión de la rama – miércoles 4 de marzo a las 12.30 – y otras noticias

Hola a todos y todas,

Esperemos que hayan recibido (si no, ¡háganos saber!) El boletín nacional de IWGB para febrero, que estuvo lleno del trabajo que el sindicato está haciendo en lo que ahora se ha convertido en 11 ramas y casi 5000 miembros.

Por eso pensamos que era un buen momento para ponerles al día de todo lo que NUESTRA sucursal ha estado haciendo, así como también para asegurarnos de que todos los miembros sepan a quién contactar con cualquier problema laboral que surja y para informarles sobre nuestra próxima reunión de la rama, que se llevará a cabo el próximo miércoles 4 de marzo a las 12.30 (sala por confirmar) – hablaremos de todos los temas a continuación y más, pero avísenos si hay algo que les gustaría agregar a la agenda.

Campaña interna de Senate House noticias más recientes: victoria para nuestros encargados de seguridad y nuestros limpiadores

Después de una larga campaña de huelgas, protestas y, por supuesto, el boicot de IWGB, 2020 verá el alojamiento del resto del personal de seguridad de UoL (en mayo) más nuestros limpiadores (en noviembre) dentro de UoL. Si bien persisten los problemas sobre los detalles de los contratos que se ofrecerán y la subcontratación continua del personal de catering y mantenimiento, no hay duda de que esto representa una victoria masiva para estos trabajadores, que ahora recibirán un tratamiento equitativo frente a las pensiones, enfermos pago, vacaciones y pago de maternidad / paternidad con personal interno.

Queríamos agradecerles a todos nuestros miembros y simpatizantes y recordarle al personal afectado que continuaremos trabajando para garantizar que el proceso TUPE se desarrolle sin problemas y de manera justa. Cualquier duda contacte con nuestro organizador de sucursal Jordi (jordilopez-botey@iwgb.co.uk).

Campaña UCL End OutSourcing

Siguiendo los pasos de Senate House, estamos ocupados con la mayor campaña de in-house en la historia de las universidades. Después de dos huelgas masivas por parte de los oficiales de seguridad y los limpiadores de IWGB a fines del año pasado, UCL ahora se ha comprometido a mejorar la provisión de salarios, vacaciones y enfermedad para el personal subcontratado en 2020. Este es un logro increíble, y la campaña continúa presionando a UCL por un calendario claro para cumplir sus promesas y terminar con la subcontratación de una vez por todas.

Para más detalles sobre los próximos pasos en la campaña, puede hablar con nuestra presidenta Maritza (maritzacastillocalle@iwgb.co.uk) o el organizador de la campaña de UCL Charlie (charliemacnamara@iwgb.co.uk).

Reestructuraciones de la Universidad de Londres

Muchos de ustedes saben de la gran reestructuración de CoSector que ha tenido lugar, pero además de esto, se están produciendo procesos más pequeños en el RSI y se proponen para el departamento de Finanzas. En todos estos casos, el IWGB ha estado apoyando a los miembros, desafiando las propuestas y representando a los miembros para luchar por sus trabajos o (en algunos casos) por pagos de redundancia mejorados. Si se ha visto afectado, se ve afectado o tiene miedo de ser afectado, no dude en ponerse en contacto con nuestros secretarios asistentes Mark (markmurphy@iwgb.co.uk) y Lindsey (lindseycaffin@iwgb.co.uk).

Queja colectiva de HEE

Después de la transferencia de TUPE del ex personal de UoL a HEE el año pasado, lo que condujo a grandes recortes en el salario neto para el personal de grado 4, el IWGB ha lanzado una queja colectiva para obtener una compensación para estos empleados y combatir lo que afirmamos que fue un proceso discriminatorio que afectó injustamente y desproporcionadamente personal BAME y femenino. Actualmente estamos esperando el resultado de la etapa informal de este proceso, pendiente de escalar a una queja formal.

El caso está siendo manejado por Catherine, la Oficial de Mujeres de IWGB, y no dude en comunicarse con ella (catherinemorrissey@iwgb.co.uk) si tiene alguna pregunta.

Foro de Información y Consulta de Empleados

Ahora tenemos una lista completa de representantes de IWGB recién elegidos para el Foro UoL ICE, por el cual la Universidad se ve obligada a informarnos y consultarnos sobre todos los temas principales. La última reunión se celebró en enero y aquí se encuentra la lista complete de los representantes.

Tenemos una gran oportunidad a través de este foro para pedir cuentas a la Universidad, así que pónganse en contacto con sus representantes o con nosotros si tienen algún problema que les gustaría plantear.

Tus representantes y como involucrarse

El IWGB tiene representantes en Senate House y UCL para empleados internos y externos, y ustedes deben sentirse libres de ponerse en contacto con ellos para cualquier cosa.

Además, siempre estamos interesados en que nuevas personas se ofrezcan como voluntarias (¡el sindicato es tan fuerte como sus miembros!). Hay muchas maneras diferentes en que pueden ayudar al sindicato, así que por favor escriban a nuestro secretario de rama Jamie (jamiewoodcock@iwgb.co.uk ) si quieren participar.

¡Esperamos verles en 2020! Hasta la Victoria!

Lindsey Caffin

Subsecretario de la rama

PD: ¡Una última cosa! UCU está de huelga en SOAS, Birkbeck y UCL. ¡Visiten sus líneas de piquete y muéstrenles apoyo si pueden!



Next branch meeting – Wednesday 3 March at 12.30 – plus other news! — February 25, 2020

Next branch meeting – Wednesday 3 March at 12.30 – plus other news!

We thought it was a good time to give you an update on everything our branch has been doing, as well as make sure all members know who to contact with any workplace issues that arise AND let you know about our next branch meeting, which will be held next Wednesday 4 March at 12.30 (room tbc) – we will be discussing all the issues below and more, but do let me know if you have anything you would like to add to the agenda.

Senate House in-house campaign latest – victory for our security and cleaners

Following a long IWGB campaign of strikes, protests and of course the boycott, 2020 will see the in-housing of the remainder of UoL security staff (in May) plus our cleaners (in November). While issues remain over the details of the contracts to be offered and the continued outsourcing of catering and maintenance staff, there is no doubt that this represents a massive victory for these workers, who will now receive equaly treatment vis-à-vis pensions, sick pay, holidays and maternity/paternity pay with in-house staff.

We wanted to thank all our members and supporters AND to remind affected staff that we will continue to work to ensure the TUPE process goes ahead smoothly and fairly. Any questions please contact our branch organiser Jordi (jordilopez-botey@iwgb.co.uk).

UCL End OutSourcing campaign

Hot on the heels of Senate House, we are busy with the biggest in-housing campaign in HE history. Following two massive strikes by IWGB security and cleaners at the end of last year, UCLhas now committed to improving pay, holiday and sickness provision for outsourced staff in 2020. This is an amazing achievement, and the campaign continues to pressure UCL for a clear timetable by which to keep its promises, and to end outsourcing once and for all.

For more details on the next steps in the campaign you can speak to our chair Maritza (maritzacastillocalle@iwgb.co.uk) or UCL campaign organiser Charlie (charliemacnamara@iwgb.co.uk).

University of London restructures

 Many of you will be aware of the huge CoSector restructure that has been taking place, but in addition to this smaller processes are occurring at the IHR and are proposed for the Finance department. In all of these instances the IWGB has been supporting members – both challenging the proposals themselves and by representing members to fight for their jobs or (in some instances) for enhanced redundancy payments. If you have been affected, are affected or fear you will be affected please do not hesitate to get in touch with our assistant branch secretaries Mark (markmurphy@iwgb.co.uk) and Lindsey (lindseycaffin@iwgb.co.uk).

HEE collective grievance

Following the TUPE transfer of former UoL staff to HEE last year, which led to huge cuts in take home pay for grade 4 staff, the IWGB has launched a collective grievance to obtain compensation for these employees and to combat what we assert was a discriminatory process which unfairly affected disproportionately BAME and female staff. We are currently awaiting the outcome of the informal stage of this process, pending escalation to a formal grievance. The case is being handled by Catherine, the IWGB Women’s Officer, and please do feel free to contact her (catherinemorrissey@iwgb.co.uk) with any questions.

Information and Consultation of Employees Forum

 We now have a newly elected full slate of IWGB reps for the UoL ICE Forum, by which the University is forced to inform and consult with us over all major issues. The latest meeting was held in January and a full list of reps can be found here. We have a great opportunity via this forum to hold the University to account, so please do get in touch with your reps or with us if you have any issues that you would like raised.

Your reps and getting involved

The IWGB has reps across Senate House and UCL for both in-house and outsourced employees, and you should feel free to contact them with any issues at work. In addition, we are always keen for new people to volunteer (the union is only as strong as its members!) – there are loads of different ways in which you can help the union, so please do drop our branch secretary Jamie (jamiewoodcock@iwgb.co.uk) a line if you would like to get involved.

Looking forward to seeing you in 2020! Hasta la Victoria!

Lindsey Caffin

Assistant Branch Secretary

PS one last thing! UCU are currently on strike over pensions, pay, casualisation, workload and discriminatory paygaps at SOAS, Birkbeck and UCL. Please do visit their picket lines and show them support if you can!

Security in-house campaign meeting tonight! All welcome! — February 21, 2020
UCL Campaign General Meeting: representatives of cleaners & porters renew their commitment to fight outsourcing —

UCL Campaign General Meeting: representatives of cleaners & porters renew their commitment to fight outsourcing

Last Saturday, representatives of cleaners at UCL attended their Campaign General Meeting 2020 to discuss the next steps in the campaign and the current situation following UCL’s announcement of improved terms and conditions for outsourced staff.

On 28 November, following the biggest strike of outsourced workers in the history of Education UCL announced improvements to outsourced workers’ terms and conditions:

  1. UCL confirmed outsourced workers will receive increased holiday entitlement from 1 December 2019.
  2. UCL would implement improved pay on 1 April 2020 and equal sickness benefits on 1 July 2020.

See full statement here: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/news/2019/nov/equalised-pay-and-benefits-confirmed-ucls-security-cleaning-portering-and-catering-staff

In the General Meeting the representatives agreed that this had been a major step in their campaign and the improvements constituted a victory in itself. However, the all shared the feeling that the announcement was not enough and considered that some very important element were missing from UCL’s current positions on outsourcing:

  • UCL do not say what will happen with pay  and the pay grade that will be given to Cleaners and Porters
  • UCL’s announcement does not yet mention a timeline for other benefits such as pensions and parental leave. Parity means nothing without such rights!
  • Furthermore, UCL has committed to ending outsourcing.

Following a lengthy and fruitful discussion, the representatives renewed their commitment to continue the End Outsourcing Campaign and decided to centre this on some key demands:

  • Ending Outsourcing and for UCL to take directly responsibility for the employment of Cleaners and Porters (and all other outsourced workers)
  • Fighting to a decent salary, which would mean Cleaner and Porters to be placed on Grade 6 of the UCL pay scale
  • Along with the implementation of Occupational Sick Pay in July 2020, for UCL to also implement Pension benefit and parental leave.
  • For UCL to ban zero hours contracts and for all current casual workers to be provided with permanent contract of employment reflecting their hours of work.
  • UCL to include all unions representing outsourced workers on campus in the negotiations of their terms and conditions.

The meeting concluded with an agreement to pursue action, with a protest scheduled within the next month and strike plans in the making.  The representatives also wrote individual letters to UCL council member to demand the inclusion of the IWGB in the current negotiations regarding outsourcing. We will be soon sharing the letters on social media!

The fight continues at UCL!

Two updates from the Women’s Organiser… — February 20, 2020

Two updates from the Women’s Organiser…


1. Women’s Strike March

We will be joining the Women’s Strike March in London on 08/03/20 to celebrate International Women’s Day.

​All women and non-binary members and friends of the IWGB are invited to join. We will meet in Cavendish Square from 1:30pm – look out for the IWGB flags and (hopefully) an IWGB Women banner!

Join and share the Facebook event here:

Women’s Strike Assembly is running free childcare at various locations on the day:


Nos uniremos a la Marcha de Huelga de las Mujeres en Londres el 08/03/20 para celebrar el Día Internacional de la Mujer.

Todas las mujeres y los miembros no binarios y amigos de la IWGB están invitados a unirse. Nos reuniremos en Cavendish Square a partir de la 1:30pm – ¡cuidado con las banderas de la IWGB y (con suerte) con una bandera de las Mujeres de la IWGB!

Únete y comparte el evento de Facebook aquí:

La Women’s Strike Assembly está organizando una guardería gratuita en varios lugares durante el día:

2. Organiser training

Our next Organiser Training for women and non-binary members will be Saturday 4th April, 2-5pm!

Please see the following flyer for details. ​Reply to laurawormington@iwgb.co.uk to let us know if you would like to join; if you have any dietary / access requirements; if you will need childcare; and if there is anything in particular you would like the training to cover.

This training will be in English. If you would be interested in coming to one in Spanish, please reply to this email to let us know.

Nuestro próximo entrenamiento de organizadores para mujeres y miembros no binarios será el sábado 4 de abril, de 2 a 5 pm!

Por favor, responde a laurawormington@iwgb.co.uk para hacernos saber si te gustaría participar, si tienes algún requisito de acceso o dieta, si necesitarás cuidado de niños, y si hay algo en particular que te gustaría que el entrenamiento cubriera.

Este entrenamiento será en inglés. Si desea que celebremos una en español, por favor, responda a este correo electrónico.


IWGB Women’s Rep Training tomorrow! — February 14, 2020