The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) Universities of London Branch voted for industrial action at the University of Greenwich today. Outsourced cleaners, porters and security officers are demanding trade union recognition for the IWGB, a commitment to end outsourcing and equal terms and conditions. 69 percent of workers voted in favour of strike action, with 31 percent voting against.
The workers are contracted through Sodexo, a multi-billion pound company based in France. They have issued four demands:
Recognise our chosen union the IWGB and meet with us and our trade union representatives
Bring our pay and terms and conditions and pensions in line with direct employees of the University
Commit to finding a reasonable timeline to bring us in-house
Pay the appropriate bonus to all outsourced workers who did not receive it after the first lockdown
Clive Steadman, Porter at the University of Greenwich, said: “Let’s hope that by taking action we can win equality and a secure future. That’s all we want. I think that’s my new year’s resolution this year: to have hope. By just posting this ballot paper I feel change.”
Outsourced workers at University of Greenwich workers are denied the basic rights that university employees are entitled to, including equal pay, pensions, sick pay, annual leave and parental leave. Those who kept the university open working overtime through lockdown are also demanding Covid-19 bonus pay, which they report was unfairly paid to some workers but not others.
Charlotte Powell, Universities of London Branch Secretary, said: “Despite voicing support for Black Lives Matter and hailing these key workers as ‘heroes’ during lockdown, the University of Greenwich is treating them like second class citizens. Outsourcing creates a two-tier workforce, discriminating against these majority BAME workers. It has no place on our campus. IWGB workers won equality at the University of London and they’ll win it at Greenwich too. It’s the least these key workers deserve.”
In their Black Lives Matter statement in June 2020, the University of Greenwich said: “Equality, diversity and inclusion are founding principles of our institution and core beliefs of our students and staff…we will do more to achieve systemic and long-lasting change for our students and staff.”
The strike hardship fund has already raised over £1,000 and the ballot follows victory for the IWGB’s flagship #EndOutsourcing campaign at the University of London.
Image via IWGB University of London.