Independent Workers Union of Great Britain

IWGB files landmark case to extend trade union rights of outsourced workers


21 NOVEMBER: The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is filing today (21 November) a landmark test case against the University of London that could broaden the trade union rights of outsourced workers, who are amongst some of the most exploited workers in the UK.

The IWGB will argue that outsourced workers, including receptionists, security officers and porters, working at the University of London, but technically employed through facilities management company Cordant Security, have the right to collectively bargain over pay and conditions directly with the university.

Denying these workers the right to collectively bargain with their de-facto employer is a breach of article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the union will argue, in the case that is being filed before the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC).

The law to date has been interpreted as only allowing workers to collectively bargain with their direct employer. But, if successful, the test case would open the doors for workers throughout the UK to collectively bargain with their de-facto employer as well as their direct employer.

IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer Lee said: “When it comes to the most important elements of pay, and terms and conditions for the outsourced workers, it is the University of London and not Cordant which calls the shots. In order for these workers’ collective bargaining and human rights to mean anything, we need to be able to negotiate directly with the university, not the glorified middle man.”

IWGB President and University of London porter Henry Chango Lopez said: “Despite working for the university just like any other employee, even to the point of being given orders by the institution’s managers, I am denied basic rights and treated like a second class worker. All outsourced workers know that ultimately they are working for the University of London, now it is time for the law to acknowledge that.”

The IWGB will be represented by leading trade union barrister John Hendy QC and employment law barrister Sarah Fraser-Butlin. The case will be backed by The Good Law Project.

Outsourced workers will also be striking today (21 November) at the University of London, as part of the IWGB’s “Back in-House” campaign.

A protest in support of the workers’ demands, which will include workers, students and other supporters, will take place from 6pm at Senate House. This will coincide with the visit of the university’s Chancellor, Princess Anne, as part of the University of London’s Foundation Day celebrations.


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