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Uni is hit by joint strike action

‘It’s not too late for the management to get on the right side of history’

10 December, 2019 — By Tom Foot

Strikers on a picket line at the university

OUTSOURCED cleaners, porters and security workers stood shoulder-to-shoulder with striking academics at University College London this week in a joint protest over poverty pay and pensions cuts.

Around 1,000 workers, lecturers, students and supporters marched through the grounds of the Bloomsbury university on Monday in what was billed as the “first ever joint strike between cleaners and academic staff at any UK university”.

Independent Workers Union of Great Britain, the trade union backing the outsourced workers, University of London branch chairman Maritza Castillo Calle said: “There is a near consensus at UCL that outsourcing has to end and that all workers should be put on equal terms and conditions, but management continues to drag its feet.

“These joint strikes will send a clear message of unity, with all those that keep the university running on the same side of the picket line, while Provost Michael Arthur will be on the opposite side.

Demonstrating in Gower Street

“It’s not too late for management to get on the right side of history and agree to our demands and those of the directly employed staff.”

The action follows the largest ever strike of outsourced workers at UCL last month.

Directly-employed staff, organised by the University and Colleges Union (UCU), are on strike in a national pensions dispute.

UCL UCU branch vice-president Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia said: “Our action represents a wholesale resistance to the turning of universities into businesses and commercial concerns, rather than communities of learning and scholarship.

“We see the struggle of IWGB outsourced workers as continuous with this resistance and that is why we are proud to be on strike with them.”

Pay and conditions of university staff and pension arrangements are negotiated nationally by two representative bodies for the majority of universities.

UCL had backed a scheme that the UCU argues would unfairly affected academics who are still working.

UCL said: “UCL will also continue to participate in discussions with UCEA and our recognised trade unions over matters of pay and other workplace issues.”

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