University of London faces lawsuit over collective bargaining on pay and conditions

University of London

The University of London is facing a lawsuit filed by The independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) to argue the case of broadening the trade union rights of outsourced workers.

The IWGB claims that facilities management company Cordant Security, which provide a number of employees to the university, including receptionists, security officers and porters, should have the right to collectively bargain over pay and conditions with the institution.

In the case it has filed with the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC), it claims that denying these rights is a breach of Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Dr Jason Moyer Lee, general secretary of the IWGB, said: “When it comes to the most important elements of pay, and terms and conditions for the outsourced workers, it is the University of London and not Cordant which calls the shots. In order for these workers’ collective bargaining and human rights to mean anything, we need to be able to negotiate directly with the university, not the glorified middle man.”

Henry Chango Lopez, president of the IWGB and a porter at the University of London, added: “Despite working for the university just like any other employee, even to the point of being given orders by the institution’s managers, I am denied basic rights and treated like a second class worker. All outsourced workers know that, ultimately, they are working for the University of London, now it is time for the law to acknowledge that.”

A spokesperson for the University of London said: “The university has long recognised two trade unions, UCU and Unison.  It has received a request from the Independent Workers of Great Britain trade union for recognition covering security guards, post-room workers, AV staff, porters and receptionists who are all employees of our contractors Cordant.

“The university does not employ any of these workers and does not accept that the relevant legislation recognises the concept of joint employment. We have therefore not agreed to the IWGB’s request for recognition.

“The IWGB is involved in a long-running dispute over the terms and conditions of the individuals employed by the university’s contractors. The university has already begun a review of the performance of the university’s contracted facilities management services and, as part of that review, will be discussing with the contractor the pay, conditions, benefits and development opportunities for the contractor’s employees.”