Outsourced security staff at University College London (UCL) have voted to join fellow workers on a day of action on 1 February, alongside the University and College Union (UCU), teachers, rail staff, and civil servants. The day of action has been dubbed a “megastrike“, with more than half a million workers set to take part.
The Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) tweeted:
UCL’s outsourced security staff are low-paid workers, and need funds to sustain their strike. They said in their fundraising call:
We are low-wage workers and it can be hard for us to be able to take multiple days of strike without any pay from their employer. Our union – the IWGB – is a small (but fierce) union and it does not have large strike funds to support this sort of action. That is why we are asking the public for support.
IWGB is a grassroots radical union, established by poorly paid migrant workers in 2012.
Stop outsourcing now
UCL runs a massive £90m yearly surplus, but last year it brought in a subcontracted workforce employed by Bidvest-Noonan. The new workers were paid a lower wage than their directly-employed colleagues.
Now the workers are demanding that their outsourced jobs are brought in-house by UCL. They also want a pay rise to £15 an hour and for the bosses to recognise their union.
According to Henry Chango Lopez of IWGB:
UCL’s use of outsourcing is outdated and exploitative. Workers face systemic discrimination in the form of poor pay and treatment from their subcontractors, and are ignored and belittled when they demand change. UCL has a £90 million yearly surplus which could be used to improve conditions for these workers, yet they chose to leave them struggling in poverty.
Matteo Tiratelli, who is the UCU anti-casualisation officer at UCL, argued:
Outsourcing creates terrible working conditions for workers on the lowest grades at UCL, yet UCL management is determined to keep up this discriminatory practice. It is one of several ways in which working conditions are being worsened across the board. All staff at UCL are seeing our pay fall behind inflation, our jobs casualised and rights stripped away, and it is sadly not just staff, but students who are paying the price.
Yusuf Nur, who is one of the strikers, explained that he doesn’t get paid enough to support his kids:
I have young children and on the poverty pay I receive as an outsourced worker I am struggling to support them. I’ve been left with no choice but to strike – it’s the only way we can make our voices heard. After bullying, mistreatment and consistent basic errors with paying us our wages and pensions from Bidvest Noonan and neglect from UCL, we must fight for better conditions for each other and our families.
We need to show up for each other
In the words of Yusuf:
Striking is a vital tool, and we’re going to use it no matter what.
The outsourced UCL staff are calling for support to help them succeed in their struggle. They say:
Any money you can give to support this strike fund will make a huge difference to our ability to win.
If this latest wave of strikes is going to be successful we need to show up for each other. Its important that those who can afford it donate to the striking security staff. You can support their crowdfunder here.
Featured image via IWGB (with permission)