Outsourced UoL workers report physical abuse, discrimination and illegal wage deduction

Outsourced staff working for University of London (UoL) have reported severe mistreatment at the hands of their employers

The reports came out as part of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) ongoing campaign, ‘Back in House’ UoL.

Accounts of University of London workers who have suffered physical/verbal abuse while at work were showcased using social media. They also highlight the insecurity they feel with their employment.

The ‘Back in House’ UoL campaign, a response to University of London’s decision to outsource 250 of their workers, launched in September this year. It demands an end to outsourcing and zero hour contracts, while advocating pay rises. Such pay rises were promised to workers six years ago, but have yet to have been implemented.

The campaign has received support from politicians and student bodies, including John McDonnell MP, the UCL Student’s Union and Johnathan Bartley (co-leader of the Green Party). They have all written to the UoL Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Adrian Smith, in support of the ‘Back in House’ campaign.

On 27 September, after a unanimous Yes vote, UoL outsourced workers went on strike.

Now, IWGB is calling on the public to email the UoL Vice Chancellor showing support for the strike action. They are also hosting a protest supporting the campaign on 21 November.

IWGB reports that “the university is able to get away with employing these workers under worse conditions than their in-house staff. Outsourced workers receive worse pensions, holiday pay and sick pay entitlements than their in-house colleagues”.

IWGB also highlight that bullying, discrimination and illegal deduction of wages are common problems among outsourced workers.

Abdul, a security officer, said his manager “lunged at [him], grabbed [him] by the neck and pushed [him]”. This was in response to Abdul’s participation in the UoL workers’ strike which took place last spring. The physical abuse was especially worrying considering Abdul’s heart condition.

John, a painter, spoke to IWGB about the loss of his benefits, including salary pension, since UoL’s decision to outsource workers.

The University of London told London Student:

“The University is aware a number of allegations have been circulated by the IWGB and would encourage any workers affected to raise these issues with their employer. All contractors must comply with the relevant legislation and to ensure their staff are protected from bullying and harassment at work in line with the University’s policies.

The University is at present carrying out a review of the performance of its contracted out services and this review will include the conditions offered to workers employed by the contractors.”


Featured image: IWGB website

Politics student at the University of Surrey. I do some reporting and writing for London Student. Follow me on twitter: @AkanshyaG

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