Over 100 people joined striking workers outside the University of London on Wednesday as part of their fight against outsourcing.
Outsourced workers are demanding the same rights as people employed directly by the university. They currently get worse pension, holiday pay, sick pay, maternity pay and paternity pay entitlements.
Strikers were joined on the protest—organised by the IWGB union—by students and workers from the University of London and elsewhere. Shadow chancellor John McDonnell and singer Billy Bragg spoke and sang respectively.
“Today is about coming out and driving home the initiative,” James told Socialist Worker. “We want to make the university aware that we’re not going to stop.”
He said that for the first time in this dispute cleaners were out with other workers such as security guards, a significant development.
Previous strikes have only included security officers, receptionists, porters and postroom workers. But the latest ballot also includes cleaners, audiovisual staff and gardeners.
The university was forced to move a graduation ceremony because of the strike, which began on Wednesday morning and will continue on Thursday.
“The patrons were not very happy, but it shows the power of the union,” said James.
The strikes come as part of the IWGB’s Back In House campaign to end outsourcing, zero hours contracts and win better pay.
Lecturers and other workers from the Institute of Education came down to support the strike. Jane Coles from the UCU branch spoke to Socialist Worker.
“As UCU members we’ve been on strike for 14 days. It mattered a great deal when members of other unions came to support us on our picket lines,” she said. “It takes great courage to join a union and strike—they deserve all our support.
“We’re part of the same fight—against the neoliberal restructuring of education.”
University management had promised to implement pay rises some six years ago, but workers are still to see them.
A key meeting of management is due to take place on17 Maythat will take a decision on the strikers’ demands.
James had a stark warning for UoL management, “We will be back in force because that’s the only language they understand.