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Open letter from Sonia Chura (IWGB) to the Vice Chancellor

Dear Professor Sir Adrian,

As Vice-Chair of the University of London branch of the IWGB, the largest union among the University’s outsourced workers, I am writing to request a meeting to discuss the issues of holidays, sick pay and pensions.

As you will be well aware, the majority of the outsourced workers at the University, currently employed by BBW and Aramark, receive only statutory sick pay and the legal minimum of holidays and pension provision. These workers include cleaners, porters, caterers, AV technicians, security guards, and maintenance operatives. Their work is absolutely vital in terms of the functioning of the University of London – in fact, without them the University would be unable to remain open for a single day.

Despite this, the University persists in treating these workers as second-class citizens, denying them the same sick pay, holiday and pension rights that the rest of the University’s employees – including yourself – take for granted.

When we are ill – we struggle into work, knowing that if we do not, we will not be paid. We risk spreading infections, and exacerbating medical conditions.

When we wish to choose our own holidays, often to visit families in distance parts of the globe, we are forced to cut them short, or to take them at expensive times of the year to fit with University closing times.

When we grow old, we must keep working, as we do not have pensions to retire on.

You will be well aware of this, as for nine months we and our supporters have been running the 3 Cosas campaign, aiming for equal rights with UoL employees. We have held numerous demonstrations and stunts, thousands of emails of support have been sent, and a myriad of groups including MPs and party leaders have voiced their support the campaign. The University of London is increasingly being seen as being synonymous with hypocrisy and exploitation.

Despite this, the University has failed to consult with us. It claims that these issues are being discussed elsewhere, but these discussions are meaningless when they do not involve the workers themselves and their direct representatives.

The campaign is not going to go away. The Summer of Action has ramped up the pressure. In the autumn student supporters are planning mass occupations. Our members are currently discussing the timing and detail of strike action which will paralyse the University.

All this is unnecessary. We are fiercely proud to work at the University of London, and do not wish to see it bring its formerly proud reputation into disrepute. We wish to work with you to bring back equality to the workplace, and to return credibility to this once great institution.

We hope that you will be prepared to begin meaningful discussions with us over these issues, and invite you to name a suitable date for an initial meeting.

Yours sincerely

Sonia Chura

Vice-Chair (IWGB University of London Branch)

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