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After winning major concessions through strike action in November, outsourced University of London workers will strike again for union recognition and other demands from Monday 27 January.
This is an inspiring and vitally important dispute. Activists throughout the labour movement and student movement must mobilise hard to support it and ensure its complete victory.
Below is a statement from the workers' 3 Cosas campaign explaining how you can help.
Outsourced workers at the University of London’s Central Administration, employed by Cofely GDF-Suez, will be striking this Monday to Wednesday, 27 to 29 January, 2014.
The first and third days of the strike will be at Senate House, University of London, from 6 am until 1 pm. On the second strike day, the entire picket line will board an open top bus and do a whistle-stop tour of high profile sites throughout London, including national media outlets and places of particular interest to the University of London and Cofely. However, we will still be maintaining pickets at the University!
The strike is called by the University of London branch of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB) and is over union recognition, terms and conditions, and job losses. “We’ve made great progress thus far, but our fight will continue until we win all our demands,” said Sonia Chura, Vice-Chair of the University of London Branch of the IWGB.
The strike action comes on the heels of a partially successful two day strike at the end of November, 2013, which won major concession on sick pay and holidays. However, the IWGB is also demanding a formal recognition agreement in order to set up proper negotiating infrastructure. Lots of the workplace issues that later turn in to formal grievances or industrial disputes could potentially be avoided if there was more dialogue between the company and the union.
The second issue of dispute regards terms and conditions for Cofely GDF-Suez workers, specifically sick pay, holidays, and pensions, which- although much improved after the previous strike- are still inferior to those terms and conditions of direct employees of the University of London. The IWGB is demanding parity in these terms and conditions between direct employees of the University of London and Cofely GDF-Suez employees at the University of London.
The third issue of dispute is about job losses. The University of London is planning on shutting down the Garden Halls- where many union members are employed as cleaners- next summer. The IWGB wants the company to re-allocate these workers within the company as vacancies arise in order to prevent job losses.
The demand for improved terms and conditions also forms part of the 3 Cosas Campaign, which has been putting pressure on the University of London for over a year.
The campaign is run by outsourced workers and has gained massive traction due to its innovative use of social media and the internet (Facebook, twitter, and an electronic campaign through LabourStart which saw over 1400 emails sent to the Vice-Chancellor).
The campaign has also benefited immensely from student support. “The 3 Cosas Campaign is a model of what workers can achieve when they organise,” said Daniel Cooper, Vice-President of the University of London Union which represents the over 120,000 University of London students. “This campaign has the full support of the student body.”
This month’s strike action represents a significant escalation of campaign tactics as over 100 outsourced workers withdraw their labour and take their grievances on a tour of London.
Twitter: @3CosasCampaign #3Cosas