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18.10.2019 / News / Press releases / /

Major disruption at three University of London universities bracing for successive weeks of strike action

  • 3 University of London (UoL) universities will be targets of strike action in October and November (Universities of Greenwich, East London and St George’s).

  • Outsourced security guards and café workers at the Universities of Greenwich, East London and St George’s are demanding equal pay and T&Cs with directly employed university staff.

  • Strikes are organised by the United Voices of the World (UVW) trade union, which is simultaneously organising strikes of entirely migrant workers at the Ministry of Justice, St. Mary’s hospital, the Royal Parks and ITV offices.

LONDON — This October, workers at the University of Greenwich’s café, who are outsourced to BaxterStorey, have voted unanimously to take repeat strike action, whilst two other University of London universities — St. George’s and the University of East London (UEL) — are also braced for similar action.

Organised by the trade union United Voices of the World (UVW), workers at the University of Greenwich will walk off the job demanding occupational sick pay in line with university staff and a reduction in their workloads.

Sydik, a chef at the University of Greenwich, said:

“I usually work non-stop, I don’t take breaks as otherwise I cannot keep up with the work. Last week I worked so hard without a proper break that I collapsed on the bus home and had to be hospitalised. I don’t get sick pay, so I cannot afford to be sick. Think about it — I am a chef who deals with food, but cannot afford to be sick. This puts not only mine, but everyone’s health at risk.”

Originally the workers were also demanding to be paid the London Living Wage, which on 15th of October the University conceded. Strikes are due to take place on the 24th, 28th and 31st of October, and 5th and 11th November.

Security guards at St. George’s University, outsourced to the multinational contractor Noonan, will soon be balloted for strike action. The guards are demanding to be directly employed by the university. UVW will also ballot security guards at the University of East London (UEL), who despite being direct employees of the university since April 2019, have been kept on their old pay and terms & conditions.

A security guard at UEL, who wishes to remain anonymous, has said:

“Being in-house on the old outsourcing terms and conditions feels like a servant being told to eat his meal at the masters table, so you think you are better because your seat has changed but your meal is the same. We feel exploited by the fact that TUPE legislation is meant to protect us and not used to trap us in contractors’ terms and conditions. It is demoralising. We feel like second-class workers while we do the crucial job of keeping all the staff and students safe.”


Notes to Editors

Further quotes from union officials and striking workers are available upon request. Please contact:

Workers at the 3 universities will be joined by hundreds of other workers, in what UVW has dubbed an “Autumn of Discontent” with simultaneous strikes of over 170 cleaners, caterers and porters from St. Mary’s Hospital, playground attendants from the Royal Parks and cleaners from both the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and 200 Gray’s Inn Road, the headquarters of ITV and Channel 4. All of these workers are migrants.

Planned strike dates are as follows:

  • St. Mary’s Hospital, Round 1: 28th, 29th and 31st of October. Round 2: 11th, 12th and 13th of November. Round 3: 25th, 26th, 27th and 28th of November. Round 4: 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th of December

  • University of Greenwich, Round 1: 24th, 28th and 31st of October. Round 2: 5th and 11th of November

  • The Royal Parks, 24th and 31st of October

  • 200 Gray’s Inn Road, 31st October

  • St. George’s University — ballot ongoing and to close on the 7th November

  • University of East London — members to be balloted next week

Our members’ demands are as follows:

  • St. Mary’s Hospital – Complete equality in pay and terms of conditions between outsourced facilities staff and in-house NHS staff; vaccinations; an end to workplace discrimination and improved changing facilities. More info

  • The University of Greenwich – London Living Wage, occupational sick pay and reduced workloads. More info

  • The Royal Parks – The London Living Wage, Occupational Sick Pay and Statutory Holiday Entitlement. More info

  • 200 Gray’s Inn Road – Occupational Sick Pay and an extra week of Annual Leave. More info

  • St. George’s University – To be brought in-house as directly employed employees of St. George’s University. More info

  • University of East London – UEL has refused to bring its security guards’ pay and working conditions in-line with other UEL staff. Security guards are demanding full equality.

United Voices of the World (UVW) is a London-based trade union with 3000 members and around 200 joining every month. The majority of its members work in low-paid jobs and are migrants predominantly from Latin America and the Caribbean — with a growing number from Asia and Africa. In 2016, the union organised the largest cleaners strike in UK history and became the first trade union to force a UK university (the LSE) to bring the entirety of its outsourced cleaners in-house. It also organised one of the longest strikes in the history of the City of London, lasting 61 consecutive days. UVW also represents workers in the legal sector, charity sector, cultural sector, architectural sector, and sex workers too — all of whom are fighting against low pay, unpaid work and overwork.


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