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I'm proud to back a University of London boycott – the outsourcing has to end

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I have been organising seminars and events at the University of London’s iconic Senate House venue for over a decade. It’s always been hugely welcoming, largely thanks to the warmth and friendliness of the staff like receptionist Glen Jacques. That’s why last year I was nearly brought to tears when I read a letter by Glen describing how conditions for workers like him at the university had been eroded over the years, and how staff were often treated with absolute contempt.

Though working exclusively for the University of London, caterers, cleaners, porters, security staff and others – the overwhelming majority of whom are BAME and/or migrant workers – are indirectly employed through subcontractors. It is an arrangement that gives them worse pension, holiday and sick-pay entitlements than their in-house colleagues, as well as making it much harder to raise concerns over issues such as workload and scheduling of hours – as the recent case of cleaner Margarita Cunalata has demonstrated. Outsourced workers are also typically more vulnerable to bullying and discrimination. Their union, the Independent Workers of Great Britain (IWGB), dealt with 54 complaints by outsourced University of London workers in 2017 alone.

The outsourced staff have campaigned for several years for improvements to their employment........

© The Guardian