Jeremy Irons pleads with striking university security guards as protest disrupts poetry reading
Exclusive: Actor raised clenched fist and shouts 'power to you' as he speaks to zero hour contract protesters
17 May, 2017 — By Tom Foot
Jeremy Irons speaks to striking security guards
OSCAR winner Jeremy Irons pleaded with striking security guards to “stop shouting” after their noisy protest disrupted his poetry reading event.
The actor, who was appearing at the Beveridge Hall of Senate House on Monday night to read from T S Eliot’s Four Quartets at an inaugural lecture, told the workers “it’s not the way we do it here”.
Security officers from the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, representing migrant workers, made their presence felt outside the hall in Bloomsbury calling for a 25-per-cent pay rise through megaphones.
Mr Irons, who won a best actor Academy Award for his role in Reversal Of Fortune, then himself came out and told them: “There is a time when shouting is necessary. But there also comes a time when stopping to shout and to listen and to discuss, is also necessary. I believe your point is made. I think it is a good point. Those of you on zero hours, if you exist, shouldn’t be. The wages should be maybe higher than £20,000 a year if you’re raising a family. But it’s complicated. It needs talk, it needs reasonableness. The world can only be run by reasonableness. Those of you from other countries are here because England is reasonable. I beg you to be reasonable.”
Video: Independent Workers of Great Britain
He added: “I would be most grateful if you would let us talk about Eliot. We have the leaflets, we understand where your coming from. But please stop shouting. It’s not the way we do it here. God bless.” He then held up a clenched fist and added: “Power to you.”
The strike followed a similar walk out of security officers at the central administration buildings on April 25 and 26. The University of London has outsourced its security service to private firm Cordant Services.
“For months we have asked the University and contractor Cordant to sit down and negotiate with us, but they have ignored our requests,” said IWGB General Secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee. “We will continue striking until the University sticks to its pay rise commitments made six years ago.”
A statement from Cordant said: “We believe working conditions for our security teams are advantageous as compared to the wider security industry. Should strike action go ahead Cordant has contingencies in place to ensure the operation of the university continues as usual.”