IWGB applauded for standing up to the ‘gig economy giants’ — July 1, 2018

IWGB applauded for standing up to the ‘gig economy giants’

IWGB’s fight against organisations such as the University of London, which continues to trample over the employment rights of its outsourced workers, features on the politics page of the Guardian.

The article, “The tiny union beating the gig economy giants”, describes IWGB’s grassroots fightback that is helping to win basic rights for couriers, cleaners and other workers on zero-hours contracts.

It highlights a range of the union’s successful actions including last month’s Deliveroo case in which 50 couriers won a six-figure payout because they had been denied rights including the legal minimum wage and paid holiday. More important, the article pays particular attention to IWGB’s ongoing ‘back in house campaign’ at the University of London.

Written by Yvonne Roberts, it quotes from Glen Jacques’ letter in which the receptionist warns: “Every pyramid is only as strong as its foundation, and if the foundation is not maintained to a high standard, the pyramid will, in time, collapse.” And it includes profiles of three of the workers who run the union – Mags Dewhurst, part-time bicycle courier and IWGB vice-president; Sarah Anderson, chair of the union’s first foster care workers’ branch; and our president, Henry Chango Lopez.

Read the full Guardian article here.

IWGB #LeadingWomen event to highlight University of London’s unfair treatment of outsourced women — June 25, 2018

IWGB #LeadingWomen event to highlight University of London’s unfair treatment of outsourced women

The University of London’s ‘vague and noncommittal assurances’ to bring workers in house creates a back door out of which it can retreat at any time. As a result, IWGB Women’s Officer Catherine Morrissey has written to the University of London to annouce that in the absence of a concrete date for bringing outsourced workers in-house tthe IWGB will be holding its own #LeadingWomen event on 10 July at Senate House (https://www.facebook.com/events/384636605363013/) to highlight the negative impact of outsourcing on women.

Dear Chris,

As you will be aware, outsourced staff at the University of London recently voted to continue their ‘back in house’ campaign, after receiving vague and noncommittal assurances – via an announcement made not to them, but to their directly employed colleagues – of the University’s intention to bring workers in house ‘where there is an opportunity and clear rationale’.

I am sure you can understand why this wording (which creates a back door out of which the University can retreat at any time), and the lack of a clear and accountable timescale, is not acceptable to the workers, and is wholly insufficient to halt the campaign which has already seen the university spend well in excess of £500,000 on additional security, not to mention the financial and reputational losses it has suffered from disruption and cancellation of events.

The next planned event in the campaign will be a protest on 10 July, coinciding with the rescheduled ‘Leading Women’ event with which the University presumably aims to bolster its credentials as a forward-thinking and aspirational institution.

As Women’s Officer of a trade union representing a diversity of marginalised groups, naturally I’m delighted to see the University of London promoting equality. But while the University pushes ahead with a series of events celebrating its historic steps to advance the rights of one group, current University management seem unaware of the irony of prolonging a situation which denies rights to another.

The focus of our protest will be our very own outsourced #LeadingWomen, who for years have been leading the fight to be treated with dignity and respect by the institution in which they work. They are determined to continue the campaign until they receive a direct and unambiguous commitment to bring all outsourced workers in house within 12 months.

The workers and their demands are perfectly reasonable. So, if you would like to enter into meaningful discussions to prevent further disruption, we would invite you to do so at the earliest opportunity.

Kind regards,

Catherine Morrissey
Women’s Officer, IWGB
Chair, IWGB Legal Department Subcommittee
University of London IWGB member
https://iwgb-universityoflondon.org

 

University of London commits to abolishing zero-hours contracts by new academic year — June 11, 2018

University of London commits to abolishing zero-hours contracts by new academic year

A strike and subsequent demonstration from the IWGB on Wednesday 6 June has pushed the University of London to release a statement regarding the future of outsourced contracts at the university’s central properties.

While concessions were made with regards to zero-hour contracts – which will be abolished by the end of the summer vacation – they continue to lack a commitment to bring all outsourced staff back in-house over the coming 12 months. Until this is promised, the IWGB will continue its campaign to support the brave outsourced staff at the University of London who are still needing to fight for equality in terms and conditions, and treatment. Continue reading

London university criticised for spending £415,000 on protest security — June 4, 2018

London university criticised for spending £415,000 on protest security

The Guardian has published a story highlighting the amount of money that the University of London has spent money on security during protests in support of outsourced workers.

Below is an excerpt from the article, which is generating attention on Facebook.

 

A university has been criticised for spending more than £400,000 on extra security during student protests in support of striking outsourced workers.

Politicians, students and unions criticised the “astonishing” cost of security during protests at the University of London (UoL), which took place in support of striking outsourced workers and their calls for equal terms on conditions such as sick pay.

“It’s an absolute disgrace that the UoL would spend hundreds of thousands of pounds turning itself into a prison rather than agree to the reasonable demand of its outsourced workers to be treated fairly, equally and with respect,” said Jason Moyer-Lee, general secretary at the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain.

Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green party, said: “It is astonishing to see a university which failed to give workers the pay it promised spend nearly £415,134 on security for a peaceful protest.”

A freedom of information request revealed that the university spent £99,690 on extra security guards for a sit-in between 19 and 28 March. This security is believed to have been in place until 23 May.

The university said it could not confirm figures for May 2018 but that the total sum spent on additional security in March and April 2018 was £415,134.88.

Read the full story

 

 

University outsourced workers announce further industrial action after historic strike — May 15, 2018

University outsourced workers announce further industrial action after historic strike

  • More than 100 cleaners, porters, receptionists and other outsourced workers of the University of London will strike on 6 June
  • Workers demand an end to outsourcing, an end to zero-hours and pay rises
  • Last strike and protest was attended by Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Shadow Minister for Labour Laura Pidcock MP, and musician Billy Bragg.

University of London workers organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) are to go on strike on 6 June, following the biggest-ever strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history. Continue reading

Open letter: ending outsourcing at the University of London — May 4, 2018

Open letter: ending outsourcing at the University of London

Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell speaking at outsourced workers strike at Senate House

 

Dear Chris

I am writing following last week’s massive strike and demonstration by outsourced workers to call on the University of London (UoL) to resolve this issue once and for all.

As you must be aware, the situation at UoL has now become untenable.

The year-long series of strikes, endless negative media and social media coverage, petitions from in-house staff and occupations by students have left the university’s reputation in tatters.

We are now at a point where the campus is on perpetual lockdown, and the university is spending hundreds of thousands of pounds on additional security whose ID and bag searches are alienating staff and visitors alike. Meanwhile, outside the university gates MPs including the Shadow Chancellor line up to condemn the UoL stance.

And all of this is merely to perpetuate an obvious injustice – namely the continued discrimination in terms and conditions against one group of predominantly BME [black, minority and ethnic] staff.

As an aside, I know that one of accusation levelled against the IWGB is that it is in some way ‘extreme’ or ‘militant’.

In fact, our members’ behaviour has been consistently reasonable – how would you like it if you were given much worse terms and conditions than your in-house colleagues, ignored when you attempted to raise this issue, told that the university would talk with neither you nor your chosen representatives and then have your entirely peaceful strikes and protests policed in a completely different fashion to those of your mostly white UCU [University and College Union] colleagues?

Furthermore, I have on their behalf raised a series of issues relating to the behaviour of the outsourced companies to which the University has simply failed to respond. What other option have they been left with to have their voices heard?

As such, the university must realise that the in-house campaign will continue to intensify until all outsourced workers are brought back in house under the following conditions:

  • That this covers all 5 outsourcing companies (Aramark, Bouygues, Cordant Security, Cordant Services and Nurture)
  • That they are all brought onto exactly the same terms and conditions as all other University of London employees
  • That there are NO redundancies as part of this process
  • That there are no reductions of hours as part of this process
  • That the issue of previously promised pay differentials is resolved

Please watch this space for details of our May protest – it’s going to be a big one!

As ever, and to combat any further accusations of unreasonableness, the IWGB remains open to direct talks over the implementation of the in-house process.

Best wishes

Danny

Danny Millum
Branch Secretary
University of London IWGB

Hundreds join IWGB outsourced workers’ protest at University of London — May 2, 2018

Hundreds join IWGB outsourced workers’ protest at University of London

On 25 and 26 April, almost 100 outsourced workers at the University of London took strike action as part of their campaign for equal terms and conditions with directly employed staff.

The group, which included cleaners, porters, security officers, receptionists, gardeners, post-room workers and audiovisual staff, arrived at the picket line from 6am and stayed all day. They were joined on the evening of the 25th by hundreds of in-house staff, students and other supporters at a protest outside Senate House. Singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, trade unionists, students and activist groups spoke at the event in a show of solidarity, and Laura Pidcock MP joined the picket line the next morning. Continue reading

Student letter of support for the outsourced workers campaign — April 24, 2018

Student letter of support for the outsourced workers campaign

Dear Directors,

We, students at the institutes of the School of Advanced Study, would like to request your support in a matter that is relevant for all of us as members of this prestigious institute and of a larger academic community.

As students at the School of Advanced Study, it is important for us to know that our school and the University of London is more than merely a place for research and teaching, and that it also aims to be involved in its community and in society in general – through events such as the Being Human festival, public lectures and consideration of opportunities to reach out to the community.

We are proud of this involvement with community and social issues, and believe a responsibility towards our most imminent community, that of university workers, is an inherent part of this approach. We are sure the School of Advanced Study and its institutes would be proud to see its graduates taking an active part in the betterment of society. We want SAS to feel that pride, and we want to be proud of our Schools and our Institutes’ true commitment to workers.

The community of SAS students includes those studying about the lives of migrants and the hardships they face, about human rights, law and social struggles. We cannot, and our institutes cannot, ignore those issues at our own home. Because we deeply care about this home, and we know you do, too.

The University of London employs a significant number of outsourced employees. We meet them every day, at the entrance to the buildings, in cleaning and providing catering for events. Those employees are currently struggling for direct employment and decent working conditions.

The IWGB is the biggest union on campus, both for outsourced and direct employees, representing over 90% of the outsourced workers at the University of London central administration.

As such, we call you, the directors of SAS institutions, to demand the IWGB will be invited to participate in the review of facilities management contracts being undertaken by the University. This is required as a step reflecting democracy, respect for workers’ rights and the basic rights to collective bargaining and free association.

We also call you as directors to demand the University of London will guarantee the review will not result in any job losses among the outsourced workers and that it will ensure that all outsourced workers, in all roles and functions, are brought in-house.

Last, we request that as directors, leaders of our prominent institutes, you will engage the SAS community in an open discussion about the social responsibility of the School of Advanced Study and the University of London towards its members, workers and larger community.

Thank you,

 

Lilija Alijeva, ICWS

Charlotte Berry, IHR

Alex Curry, ILAS

Martina Mastandrea, IES

Maayan Niezna, IALS

Daniela Zanini, IMLR

Olga Iskra, ICwS

Dean Thompson, ICwS

Ala Al-Mahaidi, ICwS

Cheryl Bellisario, ICwS

Cassandra Soderstrom, ICwS

Dallia Mitchell, ICwS

Jennifer Clancy, ICwS

Isobel Archer, ICwS

Cara Priestley, ICwS

Tanishtha Bhatia Sen Gupta, ICwS

Ellie McDonald, ICwS

Celine Denisot, ICwS

Jose Guevara, ILAS

 

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