Cleaners and porters at UCL’s IoE in mammoth collective grievance — August 5, 2019

Cleaners and porters at UCL’s IoE in mammoth collective grievance

At UCL’s Institute of Education (IoE), workplace representative Carvalho and IWGB organiser Laura represented the building’s over thirty outsourced cleaners and porters in a collective grievance hearing that lasted for around three hours.

At issue were excessive increases in workload, unpaid overtime, lack of opportunities for paid overtime, and the absence of privacy and spaces to eat and get changed.

As a result of the hearing, passionately argued by Carvalho and Laura, management has agreed to conduct an investigation into the workload of each cleaner, porter and supervisor at IoE, including possible breaches of health and safety and racial discrimination regulations.

What’s clear is that conditions at IoE – and indeed across UCL – need to change, and fast. This is being achieved by the solidarity and community developing between these workers and the IWGB, leading to increased confidence to take on and hold to account UCL and outsourcing company Sodexo.

Well done to Carvalho and everyone else who worked together on this case! Hasta la Victoria!

University of London branch secretary writes to HEE regarding ongoing dispute — August 1, 2019

University of London branch secretary writes to HEE regarding ongoing dispute

Dear Lisa,

I understand that Gary has now left HEE (Health Education England), so I am addressing my response to his email to you – please feel free to forward as necessary.

I don’t want to get into too much detail, but to concentrate on issues where we are in agreement, namely that:

  1. Had there been no TUPE, UoL HEE staff were due to receive an annual payrise of 1.8% dated from 1 August 2019.
  2. Because of the TUPE, UoL HEE staff are scheduled to make substantially higher pension contributions from 1 August 2019.
  3. Post TUPE, UoL HEE staff will be much cheaper to make redundant than their AFC colleagues.
  4. This burden falls disproportionately upon level 4 staff at the top of their bands as they stand to lose over £4000 pa should they transfer to AFC under the current mapping arrangements.

In order to address these, can you therefore confirm that you will devote some of HEE’s estimated £2.1m annual VAT savings to:

  1. Guarantee that the 1 August 2019 payrise will be implemented.
  2. Compensate UoL HEE staff for pension hikes OR adjust their mapping onto AFC scales, either way ensuring no detriment.
  3. Confirm enhanced redundancy terms for UoL HEE staff to match those of AFC staff.

We would be happy to discuss this in person in the interests of reaching agreement, and look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

“Farewell, everyone”: Rebecca Dooley steps down as assistant branch secretary — July 30, 2019
HEE staff to escalate campaign after successful (and extremely hot) strike action — July 26, 2019

HEE staff to escalate campaign after successful (and extremely hot) strike action

Yesterday saw the first day of strike action by HEE staff on UoL contracts, who are fighting against a planned TUPE transfer which will see take home pay massively cut, with low-paid administrative staff worst hit.

There was a great turnout for the strike, including not just IWGB members but other affected staff, some of whom decided on the day itself not to cross the picket line and to join the protest instead!

It was also great to see support from other IWGB members from elsewhere in UoL – cleaners, security and SAS and SHL staff all came down to help flier and to bolster the confidence of colleagues who in many cases were taking strike action for the first time.

After the usual music, drumming and noise of an IWGB strike, the picket concluded at noon as temperatures soared to record levels, with staff vowing that should the TUPE (planned for 1 August) continue in its current form they would escalate strike action.

This could now involve not just staff on UoL contracts but also those already working on Agenda for Change terms and conditions – many of who expressed support for the strike.

It is clear that the dispute is now broadening, to encompass not just the original demands of UoL HEE staff for no TUPE or no detriment but also those of all staff affected by excessive workload, stress and a culture of bullying and micro-aggression within HEE.

Thanks to everyone for their support yesterday, and if you want to know more or get involved please just email

Last minute important reminder! In-house protest tonight! 5.30 Malet Street! Food, drink & dancing! — July 12, 2019
Health Education England staff to strike – 25 July! —

Health Education England staff to strike – 25 July!

IWGB members working on University of London contracts at Health Education England facing a forced TUPE have voted overwhelmingly for strike action – and we have given notice that the first strike day will be Thursday 25 July!

Three years ago UoL HEE staff suffered workforce cuts of 40%. Since then the remainder have worked tirelessly to keep the service going, despite a massive spike in workloads and stress levels.

Rather than recognise the commitment and dedication of their staff, however, HEE and UoL are now seeking to make them pay the price for their own failure to acount for a £12m+ VAT bill via an unjustified and unjust TUPE transfer.

Staff are being asked to choose between 2 options:

Option 1: Transfer onto AFC contracts (what this means for a grade 4 staff member at the top of their scale)

  • Salary cut of up to £4200 per year
  • Pension contribution increase of £100+ per month
  • Loss of at least 3 days holiday
  • Working an extra 130 hours a year

Option 2: Remain on UoL contracts

  • Pay frozen forever meaning a year on year fall in living standards
  • No collective bargaining
  • Loss of 3 days holiday
  • Statutory redundancy

Obviously both of these are terrible options, and as a result IWGB members have voted for strike action.

To find out more just email Danny –

Climate Strike – 20 September 2019 — July 11, 2019

Climate Strike – 20 September 2019

A recent SOAS UNISON branch committee meeting passed a motion to organise a branch-wide walkout in support of the climate strike planned for the 20 September 2019 and to host a meeting with other central London colleges and workplaces to co-ordinate activity on the day.

The climate strike on the 20 September is supported by UK Student Climate Network, Extinction Rebellion, Campaign Against Climate Change and more.

All interested local trade union activists, students and climate activists are welcome to attend this gathering on 18 July, which is provisionally booked to take place in room B202, SOAS (second floor of the Brunei Gallery building opposite the main entrance), 6pm.

It is an opportunity to both update each other on what actions are being planned for the climate strike day, and to attempt to co-ordinate and collaborate as much as possible.

UoL’s campaigning cleaners extend olive branch to new vice-chancellor — July 8, 2019

UoL’s campaigning cleaners extend olive branch to new vice-chancellor

Cleaners at the University of London (UoL) have extended an olive branch to the university’s incoming vice-chancellor asking her to meet with them. Welcoming Professor Wendy Thomson to her new role, their letter (published below in English and Spanish) also expressed the hope that this presages a new approach to resolving the issue of outsourcing which has dogged the university under her predecessors.

Dear Professor Thomson,

We are writing on behalf of University of London’s outsourced workers to welcome you to your new job.

We wish to express our frustrations regarding our treatment at the hands of the institution you now represent, but we want to take this opportunity to invite you to change this situation and get rid of the shameful legacy left by your predecessors.

Most of us have had to migrate to London due to the crisis or lack of opportunities in our countries of origin. In many ways we were lucky to find work here. However, at the same time we are deeply disappointed by how little value is given to the work that we provide every day to the university.

The University of London, hiding behind outsourced contracts, has refused to recognize us as part of its community and to value our work, which makes this institution possible. Despite strikes, protests, multiple petitions and public campaigns, your predecessors refused to recognize us as a legitimate party and to negotiate with us and our union. This expresses the discrimination and prejudice that permeates an institution that has decided to systematically ignore migrant workers who have fought with for their rights with determination.

We would like to take this moment of your arrival as new Vice Chancellor to extend an invitation to:

  • have dialogue with us in order that we can express our wishes as to why we want and deserve to be part of the University of London
  • negotiate with us in order to terminate outsourcing so that the university takes direct responsibility for our employment.

If we do not have the opportunity to meet with you, do not doubt that we will continue fighting for our rights to be treated with equality and enjoy the same terms and conditions as the rest of the workers of this university.

Our struggle will continue in the form of protests, boycotts, strikes, and publicity campaigns and you can be sure that we will not stop until your institution ensures equality for all workers.

Our warmest regards,

The IWGB In-House Committee (on behalf of the outsourced workers of the University of London)

Liliana Almanza, Margarita Cunalata, Alex Gonzaga, Olga Alvarez Perez, Elisabeth Cárdenas and Onaily Carreno

Spanish translation

Estimada Wendy Thomson,

Deseamos darle la Bienvenida a su nuevo puesto de trabajo, aprovechando su llegada a su cargo como Vicerrectora de la UoL queremos manifestarle nuestras frustraciones con respecto al trato recibido por parte de la institución que representa. No obstante, también queremos aprovechar este momento para invitarle a cambiar esta situación y desembarazarse del vergonzoso legado de sus predecesores en el cargo.

La mayor parte de nosotros hemos tenido que inmigrar a este país por debido a la crisis o falta de oportunidades en nuestros países de origen. Tuvimos la suerte de poder encontrar trabajo en esta institución. No obstante, al mismo tiempo nos sentimos profundamente decepcionados por el poco valor que se da al trabajo que cada día prestamos a la universidad.

La Universidad, escondiéndose detrás de la subcontratación, ha rehusado a reconocernos como parte de su comunidad y valorar el trabajo que hace posible esta Institución. Pese a las huelgas, protestas, múltiples peticiones y campanas públicas, sus predecesores se negaron a reconocernos como una parte legítima y a negociar con nosotros. Esto expresa la discriminación y perjuicio que permea una institución que ha decidido ignorar sistemáticamente a trabajadores migrantes que han luchado con determinación por sus derechos.

Aprovechando la oportunidad de su nuevo desempeño laboral como Vicerrectora de la UoL, como trabajadores que somos parte también de la Universidad de Londres, nos gustaría extenderle una invitación:

  • a dialogar con n el fin de manifestarle nuestros deseos de porque queremos y merecemos se parte de la Universidad de Londres
  • a negociar con el fin de poner fin subcontratación de manera que la universidad asuma la responsabilidad de nuestro empleo.

Si no tenemos la oportunidad de reunirnos con usted, no dude en que continuaremos luchando por nuestros derechos a ser tratados con igualdad y disfrutar de los mismos términos y condiciones que el resto de trabajadores de esta universidad. Nuestra lucha seguirá en la forma de protestas, boycotts, huelgas, campanas de comunicación….no dude que nuestra determinación no cesará hasta que su institución asegure igualdad para todos los trabajadores.

Un cordial saludo,

Los trabajadores subcontratados de la universidad de Londres, a través de sus representantes:

Liliana Almanza, Margarita Cunalata, Alex Gonzaga, Olga Alvarez Perez, Elisabeth Cárdenas and Onaily Carreno

No to the fingerprint! An IWGB victory at UCL — July 7, 2019

No to the fingerprint! An IWGB victory at UCL

The fingerprint machine on its way out of the building.

Outsourced cleaners and porters at UCL’s Institute of Education (IoE), many of whom are IWGB members, have won a collective victory against discriminatory workplace monitoring. Their employer, outsourcing giant Sodexo, will no longer be introducing a new Time Management System, which would have required the workers to clock in and out using biometric fingerprint technology.

It was in March that the workers first complained about the proposed system and Sodexo’s failure to consult them on it. The IWGB and UCL UCU soon wrote a joint letter to Sodexo and UCL criticising it as ill-considered, discriminatory, and likely to violate privacy guidelines. The workers also wrote to Sodexo and UCL demanding an “immediate stop to the implementation of this system“. After the IWGB disrupted a meeting in which a manager was attempting to encourage compliance with the new system, Sodexo indefinitely suspended its plans. Now, the fingerprint machines have finally been removed from the premises.

This is a tangible result of workplace organising and solidarity at UCL, where much still remains to be done. If you’d like to learn more about the struggle at UCL or to get involved, you can contact UCL Justice for Workers.