Outsourced workers in UK fight for rights

Cleaners and security guards are seeking to negotiate their pay and conditions with outsourcing companies directly.

UK-based porters, security officers, and receptionists who work for the University of London are seeking more rights at work.

The employees are hired trough a facilities company, and do not receive the same benefits as those directly employed by the university.

Many large companies around the world use a similar arrangement: “outsourcing” functions such as cleaning and security to facilities companies to allow control over pay and work conditions, without having to deal with benefits or various legal responsibilities.

UK law does not currently recognise these companies as “joint employers”.

If successful, the 75 workers in this landmark case – and more than 3 million other outsourced workers – could work with unions to collectively negotiate pay, terms, and conditions with the company that initiates the outsourcing.

“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,” said Jason Moyer-Lee, general-secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, whose organisation is representing the affected workers.

The Guardian has recently reported that such outsourcing arrangements have enabled companies and middle men to exploit workers; desiring their services, but shirking off other responsibilities.  

In the nearby London School of Economics, students are campaigning for better pay and conditions for its cleaners, who are also hired through a facilities management “middleman”.


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