Migrant workers paid below LSHTM's minimum pay grade protest to end discriminatory pay

Mon, Apr 25, 2022, 8:59 AM
  • Migrant workers paid below the University’s lowest pay grade at prestigious London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) are protesting today at 5PM to demand dignified pay amidst the cost of living crisis.
  • Cleaners, porters, post-room and security staff are currently outsourced but after organising with the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), LSHTM committed in August 2021 to bring them in-house by August 2022 and improve their terms and conditions. However, the university has said it will not bring workers on to the LSHTM pay scale.
  • A recent report showed ingrained structural racism at LSHTM at both staff and student level.

Thursday 21 April: Migrant cleaners, porters, post-room and security staff at LSHTM are protesting today at 5PM outside the University to demand an end to a discriminatory pay structure. The prestigious University, recently reported to exhibit structural racism for academic staff and students, still pays its migrant cleaners below the lowest pay grade of the University pay structure.

Cleaners, porters, post-room and security staff are currently outsourced, with unequal pay to direct employees and were previously on worse terms and conditions. After organising with the IWGB, the University agreed to begin the in-housing process last August, with staff winning improved terms and conditions such as improved sick pay, holidays and parental leave. However, LSHTM has failed to give workers full equality with directly employed staff, denying them even the lowest rung of the University’s pay structure. The University has also refused to commit to account for length of service in pay calculations, as it does with directly employed staff.

At a time when the cost of living is skyrocketing, these workers have been told they will still be paid £11.05/hr, below even the lowest rung of the University’s pay structure, listed as £11.30/hr (based on a 35-hour week). Cleaners, porters, post-room and security staff are demanding that they be placed on a minimum of pay grade 3 (starting at £14.38/hr), the same grade as some maintenance staff.

At today’s protest, approximately 30 workers and supporters will demonstrate outside of the University. Speeches will be given by workers about the impact of the discriminatory pay structure and the rising cost of living on their families and a lively march will take place with flags, banners, drums and music.

William Aguilar Vega, Cleaner says: "Despite having asthma, I worked all through the pandemic to support my son and partner at home. But even though we worked as hard as all the other workers in this University, it was upsetting to see our directly employed colleagues receiving bonuses and other rights that we were denied. Even since committing to bring us in-house, we will still be paid below the lowest grade of the University’s pay system. Life in London is getting more expensive by the day, and it’s getting harder to sustain our homes and our families. We deserve equality and dignified pay for the hard work that we do.”

Henry Chango Lopez, General Secretary (IWGB), says: “This majority-migrant workforce provides essential work for one of the UK's leading public health research institutions. They worked all through the pandemic on unequal terms and conditions, denied many of the rights their directly employed colleagues take for granted. Even after committing to take these workers in-house, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine continues to discriminate against them, denying them access to even the lowest rung of the University's pay structure. Until the University ends this discriminatory treatment of outsourced workers, we must not take seriously any claims that the institution is addressing the problems of racial inequality highlighted in the recent review. These workers deserve equality and dignified pay equivalent to grade 3 on the University’s pay scale, the same as maintenance staff."

Interviews with workers are available upon request.

For more information, please contact:
James Vail, Head of Communications

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