Cleaners to continue outsourcing fight

Outsourced cleaners at the University of London have vowed to fight on despite being offered improved terms and conditions after a two-day strike.

November 28, 2013

In a statement published on 28 November, Balfour Beatty Workplace announced it will enhance sick pay entitlement, increase holiday pay and offer access to its company pension scheme.

It follow strike action by outsourced cleaners as part of the 3Cosas Campaign, which targeted the visit of Princess Anne to an honorary degree ceremony at the university’s Senate House on November.

Led by the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, a trade union not recognised by the university, strike action continued on 28 November.

Cleaners joined picket lines outside Senate House, with some demonstrators attempting to stop deliveries to Senate House’s three main entrances.

Under the proposed deal, Balfour Beatty staff would receive between 22 and 25 days paid annual leave, in addition to Bank Holidays, on a pro-rata basis, while sickness absence pay would rise to up to 26 weeks a year, depending on length of service.

Staff are already paid at least the London Living Wage, the company said..

The new terms were agreed following negotiations with Unison, though the IWGB claim most Balfour Beatty staff are represented by their union.

IWGB branch secretary Jason Moyer-Lee said the offer was “great progress”, but that staff would fight on for their stated aim: equal terms and conditions with University of London staff.

“It’s a good first step, but it is certainly not good enough,” he said.

“But it is the first time that we’ve had a strike and it shows industrial action can work.”

The 3Cosas Campaign, which is calling for fair pay, terms and conditions for outsourced cleaners, has already won significant support from students, who have participated in several demonstrations.

A Balfour Beatty Workplace spokesman said: “All BBW employees are being offered the opportunity to move their current contract onto the [new] BBW contract.”

Chris Cobb, the university’s chief operating officer and secretary, said: “This is a major step forward and I am delighted that the constructive dialogue between our contractor BBW and our recognised union, Unison, is proving so productive.”

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