The full text of IWGB President Jason Moyer-Lee’s email can be found below:
23 December, 2014
Re: Sick pay, holidays, and pensions
Dear Professor Peter Piot, Director of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,
I am writing to you, in my capacity as President of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), on behalf of the cleaners and other outsourced workers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
As you are aware, many of these outsourced workers currently have far inferior terms and conditions to directly employed members of staff at LSHTM. Of particular concern is these workers’ entitlement to sick pay, holidays, and pensions.
Many of these workers are only entitled to the statutory minimum for holidays. This means that they have 20 paid holidays (plus 8 bank holidays). Given the fact that many of these workers are from foreign countries and use holidays to return home, restricting their holiday entitlement makes visiting friends and family particularly difficult. Additionally, Ocean (the company you subcontract to do the cleaning) restricts how many of these holidays can be taken at once, meaning that workers often have to take periods of unpaid leave in order to return home. Direct employees on the other hand are entitled to 30 days holiday, plus 8 bank holidays, plus 6 school closure days.
The pension schemes available to outsourced workers are also inferior to those of direct employees. Whilst outsourced workers for the most part are entitled to only minimal employer contributions, their directly employed colleagues (on grades 1-4) are entitled to the SAUL pension scheme which enjoys 13% employer contributions.
Finally, and of most concern for a university whose mission is “to improve health and health equity in the UK and worldwide” and whose vision is “to be a world-leading school of public and global health, working closely with partners in the UK and worldwide to address contemporary and future critical health challenges”, is the issue of sick pay. Currently many of the outsourced workers only have statutory sick pay. This means that for the first three days of illness-related absence they will not be paid anything at all. Starting on the fourth consecutive day they will only be entitled to £87.55 per week, hardly enough to pay rent or buy groceries. Whilst the LSHTM may genuinely want to promote health equity and access to healthcare in the UK, when you refuse to pay sick pay to your cleaners, the result is that the people who mop the floors of your laboratories and take out the recycling for your researchers are either constrained to work sick, or are financially penalized for falling ill. This treatment contrasts sharply with the sick pay entitlement of direct employees (3 months full pay and 3 months half pay from day one; 6 months full pay and 6 months half pay after three years of service).
I am therefore writing to request that the LSHTM take action to implement direct employees’ levels of sick pay, holiday, and pension entitlements to all of its outsourced workers by no later than 31 January, 2015. If the enhanced terms and conditions are not implemented by this date, the workers at LSHTM are prepared to wage a high profile “LSHTM 3 Cosas Campaign”. These workers will have the full support of the IWGB for this campaign.
Whilst by far the easiest solution would be for LSHTM to engage with the IWGB and agree an immediate implementation of the enhanced terms and conditions, I would like to take this opportunity to be very clear about what will happen if the terms and conditions are not implemented. Among others, the following list of campaign tactics have proved successful in the past and will likely be used in the LSHTM 3 Cosas Campaign:
- Leafleting outside the university to raise awareness among students, employees, and visitors;
- Loud and disruptive protests;
- Promoting awareness on social media, in particular Facebook and twitter;
- Launching a website where campaign followers and participants can follow the latest news on the LSHTM 3 Cosas Campaign;
- Campaign videos with interviews from workers as well as prominent supporters;
- Write to LSHTM 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 clean LSHTM are not benefiting from improved health equity;
- Circulate press releases and obtain mainstream press coverage.
You and your colleagues may or may not be familiar with the IWGB and the campaigns this union has waged. 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 website (https://iwgb.org.uk/) 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 LSHTM 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 the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and the IWGB more generally, look forward to receiving your response.
Dr. Jason Moyer-Lee