RHUL-UCU support boycott of Senate House and associated UofL facilities for discretionary activities

At the reconvened Annual General Meeting of RHUL-UCU in June the Branch discussed a motion on boycotting Senate House facilities to support outsourced workers.

The motion had been submitted to a previous General Meeting at which, despite some sympathy, it was rejected. This time however, the audience decided to amend the motion. Therefore the following motion was easily passed:

RHUL-UCU’s motion of boycott in support of outsourced workers at the central University of London

This Branch notes that outsourced workers at the central University of London (comprising the central academic bodies & administrative functions based at Senate and Stewart House, the Warburg Institute, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies. the University of London Halls of Residence, and Student Central BUT EXCLUDING the colleges of the federal University) have been campaigning since September 2017 to end outsourcing and be made direct employees of the university. This campaign has the support of the vast majority of the outsourced workers at the University of London demonstrated by the fact that in April 2018 they held the largest outsourced workers’ strike in the history of UK higher education.

This Branch further notes that outsourced workers, the majority of whom are migrant workers or BAME, suffer from far worse terms and conditions than the majority white British colleagues that are directly employed by the university. They are also far more likely to suffer from bullying, discrimination and unlawful deduction of wages.

This Branch further notes that the University of London has gone back on its initial commitment to end outsourcing, with cleaners and catering staff being told that an in-house option will be presented alongside other commercial bids when the contracts are up for tender in 2020 and 2021, leaving the possibility open for the university to drag the process on indefinitely.

This Branch further notes that the university has ignored all calls by the workers to go into substantive negotiations with them and the union that represents the vast majority of the outsourced workers, the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain. Consequently, the workers have been excluded from the University of London’s facilities management review, a review that would have a significant impact on the work they do and on their terms and conditions.

Rather than engage with the workers, the university has opted for strong arm tactics to try and break their campaign, employing dozens of strike breakers and extra security, at a significant cost.

This Branch therefore resolves to:

  1. Organise a boycott of University of London central administration (including Senate House, Stewart House, the Warburg, the Institute of Historical Research, the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies and Student Central but excluding the colleges of the federal university) until the outsourced workers’ demands are met and they are brought in-house. The boycott will require members to not organise and attend events at these buildings. Teaching and examining activities as well as the use of libraries and archives are excluded from the boycott.
  2. Inform members of the boycott and the reasons behind the boycott of these spaces.
  3. Write to the Principal of Royal Holloway, University of London, Paul Layzell, to ask him to contact the Vice-Chancellor of the University of London, Peter Kopelman, on behalf of Royal Holloway, asking him to try and resolve the issue as soon as possible as well as to ask the Principal of Royal Holloway, University of London, Paul Layzell, to suggest alternative rooms for Royal Holloway members to use in London for events.

 

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In concrete terms, this motion calls for members of this Branch to organise their research events destined for in central London in alternative locations. It was recognised that members might endanger their employment if they extended the boycott to teaching, examining or use of the archives and library.

A branch member was nominated to inform the outsourced workers of this decision. Subsequently our Branch Equalities Officer  wrote to the Principal to request that the College encourage a resolution of the dispute and explore the provision of alternative teaching space in central London. In response, the Principal indicated that attempts are in process to resolve this dispute; specifically he explained that, with the support of the Collegiate Council (which includes all heads of Colleges), the University is in the process of resolving the dispute. He stated that there are some contractual commitments that means things cannot change overnight, but the Guest Services team has alreadymoved back in house and new arrangements are being made for security and maintenance, effective from Jan/Feb 2020.  Cleaning, grounds and catering will follow later in 2020 or 2021.

We look forward to the provision of greater employment security for these workers. On campus we plan to campaign against the very extensive use of precarious contracts for academic and professional services staff at this College next academic year.

Posted on behalf of the RHUL-UCU Branch Committee