Socialist Worker

Cleaners march to sweep away outsourcing bosses

by Alistair Farrow
Issue No. 2582

Marching in central London

Marching in central London (Pic: Guy Smallman)


A demonstration on Tuesday of last week drew attention to a new legal challenge against outsourcing firms.

As many as 300 people protested outside Senate House in central London.

Outsourced workers at the University of London (UoL) are demanding tp be taken in-house.

The change would mean they are entitled to the same rates of pay and security as workers employed directly by the university.

Outsourced cleaner Henry said, “UoL doesn’t care about us. They treat us differently compared to the other employees.”

Negotiate

The legal challenge would mean outsourced workers could bargain over wages and terms and conditions with the company that subcontracted out the work. For instance, it would give outsourced workers the ability to negotiate with UoL, bypassing their direct employer Cordant.

Petros Elia from the United Voices of the World union argued that small unions were better at calling their members out and winning victories.

“It doesn’t matter how many members you’ve got,” he said.

Small unions have led some impressive campaigns. But numbers do matter and it’s important to fight for strikes in the big unions.

Sandy Nicoll from the Unison union at Soas university pointed to the victory which cleaners at Soas—Unison members—celebrated earlier this year when they were brought in-house.


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