UCL Unison have recently launched a campaign to bring outsourced cleaning, catering and security staff back in house under the same conditions as staff directly employed by UCL, under the slogan #BringThemIn. The campaign has also received support from UCL Labour Society.
This comes as a welcome development following efforts from the IWGB (Independent Workers of Great Britain) union, who have been canvassing on campus for months to unionise outsourced staff. The founding of the UCL Justice for Workers campaign in November is in the context of similar workers’ struggles at LSE, KCL and SOAS that have succeeded in bringing workers back in house.
But the recent experience of KCL, where management reneged on its promise to bring workers back in house and attempted to drive a wedge between the workers by refusing to fulfil their commitment on the Waterloo campus until 2024, shows us that what the bosses give with one hand, they will try to take back with the other.
Increased militancy in the struggle for outsourced workers’ rights will inevitably bring workers, their trade unions, and students who campaign in solidarity towards a head-on collision with university management. For this reason, our task must be to draw in as many workers as possible into the common struggle. The way forward was shown recently by the joint PCS and UVW strike at the Ministry of Justice and BEIS.
One idea to achieve this is at UCL is a joint committee of Unison and IWGB reps. This will allow the two unions to coordinate and utilise their combined strength to force management to recognise the rights of workers and guarantee fair and equal work conditions.
The workers united will never be defeated!
by Dora Dimitrova, UCL Marxists