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Outsourced workers stage walkout at university’s Senate House

University of London workers, including cleaners, security staff, porters and receptionists, call for an end to zero-hours contracts

26 January, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Senate House

A MAJOR protest and strike walkout was held at Senate House yesterday (Thursday) calling for an end to outsourcing across London universities.

Unions are demanding the University of London bring 250 outsourced workers – cleaners, security workers, porters and receptionists – back in-house.

They are also calling for zero-hours contracts to be scrapped and say there is a growing clamour for change following the Carillion scandal.

Cleaner Margarita Cunalata said: “I’ve been working for six years as a cleaner at the University of London and still they treat me as a second-class worker, with far worse terms and conditions than staff directly employed by the university. I’m going to keep on fighting until all of us outsourced workers get a fair deal and are brought in-house.”

Security officers and receptionists at other university sites also walked out on strike, joining a picket line at 2pm.

The campaign has received the support of shadow chancellor John McDonnell who sent a message of support: “I support the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain campaign to end outsourcing at University of London, and end the two-tier system of employment, and to end all zero-hours contracts.”

Westminster Council is also under pressure to end its policy of privatisation and outsourcing.

Leading university SOAS last year announced it would be bringing all its cleaning contracts back in-house after an 11-year campaign by unions. Unions are now stepping up their campaign to boot private firms out of the entire University of London. They say outsourced workers receive worse pensions, holiday pay and sick pay entitlements than their in-house colleagues.

IWGB general secretary Dr Jason Moyer-Lee said: “The public is becoming aware now more than ever of the massive waste, incompetence and unfair treatment of workers inherent in the outsourcing model, and the University of London is no exception. We are calling on them to end outsourcing now.”

A university spokesman: said: “In common with many institutions in the sector, the University of London has a number of contracted-out services. The university has begun a re­view of the performance of its contracted-out facilities management services and as part of that review we will be discussing with the pro­viders the pay, conditions, benefits and development opportunities for their [the contractor’s] employees. We are aware of an ongoing industrial dispute within one of our contracted-out services. It would not be appropriate for the university to com­ment on the employment arrangements of another organisation.”

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