Outsourced workers plan legal action against their employer

United Voices of the World strikers
Ed Sykes

Workers from the United Voices of the World (UVW) union recently achieved a “historic victory” against outsourcing at the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. And now, UVW workers at St. George’s University of London (SGUL) are planning legal action against their employer, arguing that:

the decision to outsource them to a private contractor on inferior pay and terms and conditions of employment than university employees amounts to indirect race discrimination.

As the UVW has highlighted:

This legal challenge is the latest development in an ongoing month-long dispute between the UVW and St George’s university which has seen the security guards take strike action over the university’s refusal to hire them directly. If the challenge is successful it could lead to a pay rise for around 3.3 million of the country’s outsourced workers such as cleaners, porters and security guards who work in the public and private sector.

Striking workers speak

One striking security guard stressed:

We don’t receive sick pay, we don’t even earn the same amount as the lowest paid St. George’s worker, and when we’ve gone on strike, we’ve been threatened each and every time with arrest. They wouldn’t call the police on the academic staff, it’s so obvious we’re being racially discriminated against.

Another worker stated:

They say it’s not viable to make us university employees, but they have not explained why. They don’t treat us as equals. They treat us as second-class workers. All of us are ethnic minorities and we all feel discriminated against and harassed.

“Morally reprehensible”

UVW organiser Petros Elia, meanwhile, said:

An internal report from the university found that in-housing them would not only provide a better service but would also lead to cost savings. The decision of public institutions such as St George’s to outsource workers who are migrant and BAME is done for the sole purpose of slashing their pay and terms and conditions. This practice is not only morally reprehensible but, we hope to show in court, is also unlawful and that keeping them outsourced serves to make them second class workers. We believe that St George’s discriminates against its cleaners and security guards on the grounds of their race and nationality and this case will aim to prove that in law.

Featured image via UVW (with permission)

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