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Over 120 academics pen open letter to LSHTM demanding an end to 'second class' treatment of outsourced workers

Tue, Jul 12, 2022, 10:33 AM
  • 126 academics have written an open letter to the university’s senior management raising concerns regarding the “second class” treatment of outsourced workers, which “tarnishes the reputation of the School”.
  • These allegations of second class treatment follow on from an independent review commissioned by LSHTM which found the university to be structurally racist.
  • The academics request that LSHTM management engage in negotiations with outsourced workers, who are due to be insourced in August, and have recently voted for strike action following a refusal by management to negotiate over their pay grade and the victimisation of 6 workers for taking part in trade union activities.

126 academics, including London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) staff, alumni and members of the wider academic community, have published an open letter to Senior Management at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, raising concerns over “second class” treatment of outsourced workers, which “tarnishes the reputation of the School”.

The academics demand that management meet “essential workers’ demands of fair treatment and pay” and “the immediate annulation of disciplinary sanctions faced by some workers engaged in union activities and campaigns.”

These allegations of second class treatment by the university follow on from an independent review commissioned by LSHTM and published in December 2021 which found the university to be structurally racist.

Outsourced workers at LSHTM, represented by the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) Union balloted unanimously to strike in June, demanding the university negotiate with them over pay. Despite winning a commitment from the university to bring them in-house last August, workers are being told that they will still be paid less than their fellow employees.

The letter also demands the annulment of disciplinary penalties taken against four workers who were given written warnings after peacefully protesting in May, with one worker given a final warning, and 2 other workers for taking part in a union meeting, and that the university recognise the IWGB as the chosen union for their staff. The IWGB is currently appealing actions against these workers by the university and has a blacklisting claim open against the school.

Dr Sabah Boufkhed, lecturer in global health and LSHTM alumni says, “Our academic and global health community has taken a stand with less privileged colleagues who have organised themselves to address their poor labour conditions. We know from the research we do that these conditions are a major determinant of health. I hope that LSHTM’s senior management will immediately address the situation and make a step towards addressing causes of health and social inequities within their own premises.”

Henry Chango Lopez, General Secretary of the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) says, “It is heartening to see LSHTM’s academic community come out in support of low-paid, precarious migrant workers at LSHTM. When UCU workers went on strike, LSHTM management allowed their peaceful actions to take place and accommodated them, whereas when migrant workers at the university chose to ask for the bare minimum they have faced disciplinary action. There is structural racism at the core of all of this: migrant workers are paid less than their colleagues, and victimised when they speak out and ask to negotiate. LSHTM needs to heed the words of their academic community, meet the demands of their workforce and reverse all disciplinary action taken against outsourced workers who took part in peaceful trade union activity.”

For more information, please contact:

Jake Thomas, Press and Communications Officer
jakethomas@iwgb.co.uk / +447446625784

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