Workers slam UCL as ‘unequal’
‘Everybody deserves to be happy… that is why everybody deserves the right to go on strike’
22 November, 2019 — By Tom Foot
FOUR hundred activists marched on University College London in what has been described as the “biggest strike of out-sourced workers in higher education history”.
UCL warned staff to work at home to avoid the disruption from the protest – over cleaners, porters and security officers’ pay and terms and conditions – and events including the Orwell Memorial Lecture have been cancelled or postponed.
Striking UCL security officer Oladitan Olasiende told the demonstration: “Until our voice is heard, until our pay is paid, we will continue to fight our battle. Everybody deserves to be happy.
“That is why everybody deserves the right to go on strike.”
There were also speeches from Guardian columnist Owen Jones, Labour candidate for Cities of London and Westminster Gordon Nardell, UCU’s national executive committee member Deepa Driver, PCS union assistant general secretary John Moloney, NUS vice-president for higher education Claire Sosienski Smith and UCL student union BME officer Sandy Ogundele.
Mr Nardell, a QC, told the demo: “Workers who are themselves victims of outsourcing taking action for themselves, this is brilliant because it stands as a beacon to non-organised workers, to members of other trade unions who aren’t taking action, and they can see what a determined campaign can do.”
The protests (pictured) went on from 8am until 1pm, with workers and supporters taking to the streets and visiting several UCL buildings.
Mr Jones said: “UCL has picked a fight with the wrong workers and it’s picked a fight with the wrong union. Their determination and courage is far greater than your determination to impose low pay and insecure contracts on your workers whole you pay ridiculous, exorbitant, salaries to those at the top.”
Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain general secretary Jason Moyer-Lee added: “We take all this to be a good sign. It means we’re having an impact.”
The union argues that out-sourced 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 says.
An UCL statement said: “Our colleagues working in security, cleaning and catering fulfil essential roles at UCL, on which we all depend.
“We have listened carefully to their concerns and we are acting. We will continue to listen and respond to concerns raised by our community.”