University of London brings staff in-house following boycott

The University of London (UoL) agreed to bring security staff and cleaners in house following boycotts and strikes at Senate House Library and other UoL-owned buildings.

Vice-Chancellor Professor Wendy Thomson wrote that the university had agreed to insource staff in an email sent to her UoL colleagues. The email was subsequently published on Twitter by the Independent Workers Union’s University of London branch (IWGB UoL).

Professor Thomson went on to say that her view was shaped by “the strength of feeling within the University community, the undertakings that have been given to staff and the financial position… together with the potential harm of the boycott to staff and the events organised by the University.” 

The “unplanned costs and inconvenience associated with additional security required” were cited in Thomson’s email as a factor in the decision to insource staff. The Guardian reported in June that the University of London has “spent more than £1.3m on additional security officers, receptionists and other security measures from March 2018 until November last year, amid student demonstrations and over a dozen workers’ strike days.”

The Boycott Senate House campaign has been supported by both IWGB UoL and the Universities and College Union (UCU). The campaign rallied their supporters on Friday (Oct 18) morning to say that “the boycott is still ON” as “words are good, but the workers need guarantees.” The campaign are currently “waiting for details on timeline” but acknowledge that it is “a major step forward” for the boycott and for all outsourced staff. 

IWGB UoL said, “In the next few weeks we will ask the university to clarify these points and to accelerate as much as possible the process of in-housing.” 

They also echoed Boycott Senate House’s sentiments, stating that “it is more important than ever to maintain a firm boycott of all events at Senate House and the other University of London central administration buildings. It is our determination that will decide whether the university finally starts to treat its outsourced workers with dignity or continues to systematically discriminate against them.”

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