UCL to sack 40 security guards and fire-and-rehire remaining 216, prompting strike action

Fri, Jun 9, 2023, 1:31 PM
  • UCL’s subcontractor Bidvest Noonan has informed outsourced security staff at the university that 40 of the 256 total staff will be made redundant by September.
  • Remaining security staff will have to reapply for their jobs, and will face “reduced conditions” in their contracts.
  • The redundancies come in the context of strike action by security guards as part of a years-long campaign to end outsourcing at the university by members of the IWGB.
  • Upon receiving the news, security guards in the IWGB immediately held an indicative vote which resulted in a unanimous vote in favour of strike action.

Thursday 8 June: Outsourced security guards working at University College London (UCL) have received communications from subcontractor Bidvest Noonan confirming that 40 out of 256 of the total staff will be made redundant as part of a restructuring process taking place before the 2023/24 academic year. Remaining security guards will face changes in contracts which will include cuts to hours for many staff of 18 hours per week, amounting to a pay cut of £13,500 per year, as well as changes in job responsibilities and the deletion of various roles.

Upon receiving the news, security guard members of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) held an indicative vote for strike action by show of hands at a meeting attended by over 100 security guards, resulting in a unanimous Yes vote in favour of industrial action. The official ballot will run from 14 June - 3 July.

The restructuring and redundancies take place during an ongoing campaign by outsourced workers at University College London represented by the IWGB to end outsourcing. The campaign, which started in 2019, most recently saw the security guards at UCL taking strike action in December 2022 and February 2023.

Yousef*, a security guard at UCL says, “I have worked at UCL for 8 years. I know the lecturers, the students, the building managers - I get along well with everyone and I love my job. UCL management’s treatment of us has been tone deaf and cruel. It is hard not to see this as a punishment, a retaliation to us speaking out and asking for change. We are hurt, we are fearful and uncertain, and we are all very disappointed in the university and Provost.”

*not their real name

Jenna Ali, BSc Natural Sciences student at UCL says, "Extremely overworked and underpaid staff have been holding our campus together, and UCL are kicking them out. These are people that are well known and loved by students, academics and staff alike. Taking away these jobs will be hugely detrimental to safety at the university. We can't stand for compromises made to campus security to line the university’s overfilled pockets."

Henry Chango Lopez, General Secretary of IWGB says, “UCL should be ashamed of their treatment of vital outsourced staff. To toss aside so many hard working people, treating them like numbers on a spreadsheet rather than human beings, goes against all the values UCL claims to stand for. Provost Michael Spence has taken his eye off the ball allowing this vile situation to happen under his watch. He has an opportunity to reverse this, and he must take it.”

Interviews with security guards are available on request.

For more information please contact:

Jake Thomas, Press Officer


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