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University of London workers organised by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) are to go on strike on 6 June, following the biggest-ever strike of outsourced workers in UK higher education history.
Over 100 cleaners, porters, security officers, receptionists, gardeners, postroom staff and audiovisual staff are expected to walk out. This follows two days of strike action last month. The protests in support of the strikes were attended by hundreds of people, including Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP, Shadow Minister for Labour Laura Pidcock MP and musician Billy Bragg.
Laura Pidcock MP said about the strike: “The IWGB campaign is incredible, and the picket was certainly the liveliest I’ve been on. I’m convinced they’re on the right side of history and that they’ll win. Good luck to them.”
The workers, who are employed by a number of outsourcing companies that have contracts with the University of London central administration, are demanding to be made direct employees of the university, and for equal terms and conditions with those that are directly employed.
Outsourced workers receive worse pension, holiday pay, sick pay, maternity pay and paternity pay entitlements than their in-house colleagues.
But more importantly, outsourced staff are generally more likely to suffer from bullying, discrimination and illegal deduction of wages.
IWGB President Henry Chango-Lopez said: “Last month we saw the biggest strike of outsourced workers in UK-higher education. The message the workers sent the university is clear – they want to be made direct employees with the same terms and conditions as other directly employed staff. As long as the university continues to ignore this call, industrial action will only escalate.”
A protest in support of the strike will be held on 6 June from 5:30pm.
The strikes are part of the IWGB’s “Back In-House” campaign, which is calling on the university to end outsourcing, to abolish zero-hours contracts and that it implement pay rises it promised six years ago, but failed to deliver.
The campaign, which was launched by the IWGB in September 2017, has received the support of Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell MP (click here for his video message), Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley and a number of trade union and student union branches.
Through a series of protests and strikes, the IWGB has succeeded in forcing the university to initiate a review into its facilities management contracts.
However, the union has been left with no option but to escalate its campaign, as the university has consistently denied the outsourced workers and their union, the IWGB, a voice in this process.
Previous strikes have only included security officers, receptionists, porters and postroom workers, but the latest ballot also includes cleaners, audiovisual staff and gardeners.
The IWGB is the largest union at the University of London central administration buildings, which includes Senate House, Stewart House, The Warburg institute, The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Student Central, International Hall, College Hall, Connaught Hall, Lilian Penson Hall and Nutford House.
The outsourced workers taking industrial action work for Cordant Security, Cordant Services and Nurture.