Crowds of outsourced workers – including cleaners, porters, and security officers – have gone on strike and gathered in protest outside one of the UK’s biggest universities.
Protestors danced and chanted outside University College London (UCL) on Tuesday (19 November) during the “biggest” strike in a series of walkouts coordinated by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
The union argues that outsourced employees receive worse sick pay, pension, holiday pay, and parental leave than those directly employed by the university. They are also more likely to suffer from bullying and discrimination, it said.
Image Credit: IWGB.
“For decades, UCL has treated its majority migrant and BAME outsourced workers like second class citizens, condemning them to a system of bullying and discrimination,” said Maritza Castillo Calle, IWGB University of London branch chair and former UCL cleaner.
“We gave UCL several opportunities to avoid this industrial action. But instead of doing the right thing by agreeing to treat these workers as equals, the university continues to drag its feet and only offer half measures. If the university continues to bury its head in the sand, we will not hesitate to take additional industrial action until we are heard.”
?Come and party on the picket line! ?
Ever wonder what it looks like when you’re on a picket line for 5 hrs in the cold & you know hundreds of coworkers and thousands of people are behind you? It looks like this! ?#EndOutsourcing
— IWGB (@IWGBunion) November 19, 2019
The university has engaged in negotiations with separate union UNISON and has said it is committed to ensuring security, cleaning, and catering staff receive the same – or equivalent – pay as directly employed staff. It has also promised to achieve parity on pay scales, overtime, sick pay, and maternity and paternity pay by August 2021.
However, IWGB has dismissed UCL’s statements as “vague” and without “a clear timeline.”
Ahead of today’s strike, the union balloted almost 300 workers over their terms and conditions, as part of its campaign to end outsourcing and zero-hour contracts at UCL. The strike action was backed by 98 percent of the cleaners and porters and 98.75 percent of the security officers that voted.
It demands that the facilities management companies that manage the security and cleaning contracts, Axis and Sodexo, give the outsourced workers the same terms and conditions as UCL’s direct employees.
Support the IWGB’s appeal to raise money for its strike fund here.
Featured Image Credit: IWGB / Twitter.