London IWW Press Release – For Immediate Release (PDF attached below): We, the Industrial Workers of the World London General Membership Branch wish to express our unconditional solidarity with our fellow workers from SOAS UNISON who have been campaigning tirelessly since 2006 to have the currently outsourced cleaning contract brought back in-house.
As staunch supporters and campaigners for the London Living Wage within our own union, we welcomed SOAS’ decision in June 2008 to introduce the London Living Wage as the minimum wage for all SOAS outsourced contract staff. However, we are fully aware that this measure alone does not resolve the issues related to the two tier workforce system that prevails in your institution.
An important section of our IWW members are also students and workers at the University of London and other Higher Education institutions in the UK. We therefore know full well that outsourced staff working for SOAS’ contractors still face significantly worse terms and conditions of employment, which in our view is an unacceptable situation.
The London IWW also expresses its full support for the SOAS UCU branch representing SOAS Academic and senior support staff, who have overwhelmingly backed the Justice for Cleaners Campaign.
1,294 SOAS staff and students were consulted about this matter in a referendum on December 7th, 2012. An impressive 98% of the participants backed up the call for the SOAS cleaning services and staff to be brought back in-house.
We call on the Governing Body Working Group to recognise this overwhelming majority sentiment within SOAS by recommending to the Governing Body that it immediately bring SOAS cleaning services staff back in-house, and also, in light of its broader remit, that it look at the practicalities of returning other outsourced services in-house. Where specific issues can be identified that would make the in-sourcing of some of these other services impracticable, we would urge the working group to make recommendations to the Governing Body to ensure that any remaining outsourced staff receive broadly similar terms and conditions as directly employed SOAS staff, particularly in the areas of sick pay, annual leave and pension entitlements.
SOAS is a unique institution in many ways, and we at the IWW know first hand that your students are rightly proud of its reputation for supporting social justice and equality across the disciplines and regions the School covers.
Failing to rectify this situation of unjust and unequal employment conditions for outsourced cleaning staff would be very detrimental to SOAS’ reputed ethos of community, inclusivity and social justice.
Furthermore, it should be underlined that other academic institutions in London have recognised the many benefits of returning such services in house, including the good business sense of doing so (Queen Mary University, January 2009.Report available at: http://www.geog.qmul.ac.uk/docs/staff/8041.pdf )
Universities cannot be critical in theory but indifferent in practice. We urge the Governing Body Working Group to pledge to move in favour of the demands made by the Justice for Cleaners Campaign and the SOAS community.