United Voices of the World (UVW) was forced to take action today by stepping in to provide outsourced cleaners at St. George’s University of London with PPE.
The cleaners had not been provided with masks despite World Health Organisation (WHO), Public Health England (PHE), and government guidelines concurring that masks are effective in reducing the rate of transmission of the deadly COVID-19 virus.
The failure is both negligent and potentially criminal. It also echoes a previous failure by university management to provide outsourced security guards with masks. An indefensible failure given that male security guards are those most at risk of catching the deadly virus.
In both of these cases the majority of the workers have also been BAME and have demonstrated why it is that BAME workers find themselves disproportionately at risk of COVID-19; as low-pay and discriminatory outsourcing practices force BAME workers into high-risk frontline positions whilst negligent management leaves them with inadequate PPE.
St. George’s University shares the same grounds as St. George’s Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – one of the worst affected hospitals in London which recently confirmed that two of its outsourced cleaners died after catching COVID-19.
In light of these repeat failures by university management to protect its workers, UVW believes that now more than ever legal action against the university is justified, and intends to bring that action against the university as soon as possible.
The case, which UVW has already brought against the Royal Parks, will argue that outsourcing BAME and migrant majority workforces on significantly worse pay and terms and conditions amounts to indirect discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. The case marks a historic first and has the potential to drastically benefit Britain’s 3.3 million outsourced workers.