Staff outsourcing payment gap has become a central issue in the planned strike action by UCL workers. They are demanding their rights, living wages and better working conditions in their places of work.
Workers at University College London (UCL) are to be balloted to determine if they will go ahead with their planned strike action. The hundreds of porters, cleaners and security workers in the school want to be offered the same working conditions as their counterparts who are employed directly by the school. The strike will be part of a campaign to end staff outsourcing.
Impact on staff outsourcing
The organizers are expecting it to be the biggest strike of outsourced workers with over 300 workers striking. The organizers have emphasized the importance of such a strike to ensure that UCL is offering better terms and working conditions for these workers.
UCL with a student population of over 42,000 is one of the largest universities in the UK. It is under the leadership of provost Prof Michael Arthur who many argue that he is overseeing an unjust two-tier unemployment system where outsourced workers enjoy fewer rights than their counterparts.
A letter sent to Prof. Michael highlighted the concerns these workers have with the system and university, in its response, said that it knew of the issues that were affecting the workers and they were reviewing the terms and conditions of the workers.
Strikers called for swift UCL action
The letter highlighted in part:
This two-tier system is deeply unjust and it is hugely disappointing that UCL has maintained this system of exploitation for so long.
The letter also condemned the situation as unacceptable and called on UCL to act swiftly to ensure that workers’ rights are protected.
The staff outsourcing strike is part of a larger campaign by the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) that will address issues such as pay gap and sick leave compensation for these workers. Outsourced workers, for instance, get very low compensation during sick leaves. For the first three days of sick leave, they receive no compensation, and after that, they receive £94.25. This has resulted in many workers opting to work while sick.
A UCL spokesperson, however, defended the school and said that all workers should get a living wage. He insisted that the school is working hard to ensure there are fair working conditions for outsourced workers and insisted on the importance of contractors responsible for the outsourced workers to ensure they are paid living wages.