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Strike for 6 June to go ahead until greater clarity is given
University announces vague commitment to bring some services in house “where there is an opportunity and clear rationale”, without specifying which services.
Landmark joint-employer case will continue for time being
The University of London central administration has today announced that it will start a process to end outsourcing and bring its facilities management contracts in-house, in a major concession to the “Back in-house” campaign launched by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) in September 2017.
The announcement by the university follows the biggest strike of outsourced workers in UK-higher education history, when over 100 workers walked out on 25 and 26 April.
However, the vagueness of the statement and the lack of clarity on both the timeline and on which contracts will be brought in house means the IWGB will go ahead with the strike of around 130 outsourced cleaners, security officers, receptionists, porters, post room workers and audiovisual workers, scheduled for 6 June.
The university today announced a vague commitment to bring some services in house in 2018/19 “where there is an opportunity and clear rationale”, without specifying which services. The lack of detail on which contracts will be brought in-house and when, as well as the number of caveats in its statement gives no assurance to any of the outsourced workers as to if and when they will be made direct employees.
Prior to the decision the IWGB said it would consider any process to bring the outsourced workers back in house that would take 12 months or less. Given that outsourced workers terms and conditions have been a live issue for the past seven years, anything longer than twelve months is excessive.
The IWGB also plans to continue its landmark “joint-employer” case against the University of London for the time being.
IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “Today’s announcement demonstrates that collective action and pressure works. The university has clearly understood the current situation is untenable and that they need to do something. But it also shows that the University will always try and squeeze every last penny out of its outsourced staff. Until the University of London announces the termination of all outsourcing on a reasonable timescale, IWGB will continue to campaign.”
IWGB representative and University of London cleaner Margarita Cunalata said: “We’re glad that the university has finally acknowledged our repeated demands to be given equal terms and conditions as other workers at the University. However putting us in this limbo is completely unacceptable. We will continue fighting until we are made direct employees and treated with the dignity we deserve.”
The IWGB wants to take this opportunity to thank all those that have supported the campaign, including John McDonnell MP, Laura Pidcock MP, Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and singer-songwriter Billy Bragg.