A team of black, brown and migrant security guards have been outsourced by St. George’s, University of London (SGUL), the UK’s most prestigious medical university, to Bidvest Noonan. For several years they have been denied full pay sick pay and have been employed on T&Cs far below those enjoyed by their largely white in-house colleagues. But these workers are refusing to take racial discrimination lying down!
In late 2019 and early 2020 they embarked on a series of strikes which saw them demand to be made direct employees of SGUL. But rather than negotiate with the workers and recognise their trade union, management decided to repeatedly call the police to intimidate the workers and break their strikes. Something which on one occasion led to the unlawful arrest of a UVW staff member and barrister. But in spite of these bullying tactics the workers have battled on!
They have taken direct action, shutting down fundraising events at the university and alerting the public to SGUL’s racist ways, as well as on one occasion successfully gate-crashing the university’s postgraduate open day and giving prospective students a real insight to inequalities at the heart of the university. However, the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic in early 2020 and the lockdown that ensued swiftly put an end to the possibility of strikes and pickets being able to take place.
The fight now continues through a groundbreaking legal challenge against St George’s arguing that outsourcing the security guards on the terms and conditions they do amounts to race discrimination.
So, while SGUL staff self-isolated and worked from the safety of their homes, the security guards were abandoned without full pay sick pay and adequate PPE and safety measures. But undeterred they fought on; walking off the job on a number of occasions to demand full pay sick pay, adequate PPE and improved safety measures. And most recently not only did they finally win full pay sick pay for 3-weeks, they also beat back an attempt by Bidvest Noonan to slash their wages!
Yet in spite of these victories the workers remain outsourced and their pay and terms and conditions are still far below what they deserve. Which is why they are now using all the weapons at their disposal to bring SGUL to heel by bringing an unprecedented legal claim against the university which will argue the decision to outsource them amounts to indirect racial discrimination. If the case is successful it will have ramifications for all 3.3 million of the UK’s outsourced workers and put an end to SGUL’s disgraceful outsourcing regime. So watch this space, because these workers aren’t going anywhere!
“From my own experience, I’ve witnessed the unfair treatment of the security staff during these uncertain times. It has been appalling considering almost everywhere else the staff have been sent home for their safety. Here, the security still has to come to work with no sick pay being implemented in case one of us contracts Covid-19. ”.23.03.2020 – Anonymous Security Guard
For the security guards to be made direct employees of SGUL
Equal pay & T&Cs
To receive pay and T&Cs of employment in line with SGUL standards