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University of Greenwich outsourced workers to vote on strike action over pay, conditions and racial discrimination

03 December 2020 02:33
  • Strikes will be part of the IWGB's campaign, launched today, to end outsourcing at University of Greenwich.
  • Outsourced workers have far worse conditions than directly employed staff, including worse pensions, pay and parental leave.
  • The IWGB has documented a number of management failures and discriminatory practices, including the failure to pay majority-BAME security officers who worked during the pandemic a £300.00 COVID-19 Bonus that was paid to White British porters.

3 December: The Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) is to ballot security officers, porters and cleaners for strike action at the University of Greenwich.

The IWGB will be balloting more than 30 workers over their terms and conditions, as part of the union's campaign, launched today, to end outsourcing at the University of Greenwich. The strike ballot will specifically demand the outsourcing company that manages the contract, Sodexo, puts cleaners, porters and security officers on the same terms and conditions as University of Greenwich’s direct employees. The results of the ballot are expected on 23 December.

Outsourced workers receive worse pay, sick pay, pensions and parental leave than their in-house colleagues. (See comparisons of conditions in notes below).

They are also more likely to suffer from bullying and discrimination than directly employed workers. For instance the majority-BAME security officers were not given a one-off £300.00 bonus given to other predominantly White British workers who, like them, worked throughout the pandemic.

IWGB University of London branch chair and formerly outsourced cleaner Maritza Castillo Calle said: “The University of Greenwich would not be able to function without its security officers, cleaners and porters. Throughout the pandemic these workers have kept the university safe and they were praised as “heroes” for doing so. However, for years the university and its contractors have been happy to treat them like second class workers. They are overworked, underpaid and mistreated. The University of Greenwich has been happy to look the other way when issues are raised about the abject failure of its contractor to treat people with dignity and respect. We gave Greenwich a clear deadline by which to present a plan to end outsourcing which it failed to abide by. Now we are left with no option but to strike.”

University of Greenwich Security officer Abiodun Wilhelm said: “I have worked at University of Greenwich for 14 years and during the pandemic I have put my life on the line, despite my health conditions, to keep students and staff safe. Now we ask to be brought in-house because it will increase our pay packet, our parental leave entitlements and our pensions to an equal level with direct employees of the University. Outsourcing encourages discrimination, victimisation and racism. We deserve to be treated with equality, dignity and respect just as direct employees of the university are.”

Notes to Editors:

  • The outsourced workers are launching a strike hardship fund today. They have also launched a petition for supporters to call on the university to end outsourcing.
  • On Friday 13 November, the IWGB wrote to the UoG Vice Chancellor Professor Jane Harrington and asked her to publicly commit to end outsourcing or engage in good faith negotiations with that end. The IWGB wrote to Harrington again on 20 November to request an informal meeting to discuss this. Having received a response from Professor Harrington on 23 November which made no commitments regarding outsourcing, on the same day the IWGB wrote to the UoG Governing Body to raise these demands directly with them. On 30 November, the IWGB received a response from Bronwyn Hill CBE, Chair of the Governing Body, which stated, “bringing the staff in-house is not something that we are in a position to consider at this current time.”
  • Sodexo took over the cleaning, portering and security contracts in January 2020.
  • Following a separate campaign launched in September 2017, the IWGB won the in-housing of all outsourced staff at University of London.
  • In 2013, following the landmark 3 Cosas Campaign, the IWGB won improved sick pay and holiday pay for outsourced workers at the University of London (Central Administration).
  • In 2019, following a campaign at University College London, the IWGB won significantly improved pay, holiday pay and sick pay for over 800 workers at UCL.
  • The University of Greenwich Vice Chancellor earns £246,467 pa.

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