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Security guards at St George’s University London win full sick pay

UVW welcomes the provision but says the university's treatment of its security guards amounts to indirect discrimination

SECURITY guards at a university hospital have won three weeks of full sick pay in another victory for London’s outsourced workers during the Covid-19 crisis. 

The security team at St George’s University London (SGUL) have been fighting a months-long campaign against derisory statutory sick pay of £19.17 per day.

Their union, United Voices of the World (UVW), announced on Wednesday that contractor Bidvest Noonan has now awarded full sick pay for three weeks to the workers.

The privateer had first attempted to mislead the guards by offering sick pay as part of a package which would have cut their hours, the union claims. UVW says this would have slashed their wages by up to £2,500 per year.

Security guard Cyril Hawkin said: “I was shocked when they offered me the ‘pay rise’ and expected me not to notice that they were reducing my hours.”

He said that he and his colleagues rejected the offer but “made clear that we would be taking full sick pay.”

UVW organiser Petros Elia said the provision of three weeks’ sick pay was welcome, but didn’t go far enough. 

“St George’s has treated these workers like second-class people and we’ll continue to fight through strike action and legal action until [SGUL’s] racist employment practices are rooted out,” he said. 

The union is in the process of suing the university, claiming that its practise of outsourcing amounts to indirect discrimination because it puts a majority black, Asian and ethnic-minority workforce on worse terms and conditions than in-house staff.

Earlier this week, UVW members working for cleaning contractor Ridge Crest won the London living wage and full sick pay, while cleaners at the Ministry of Justice offices have won full sick pay for anyone affected by Covid-19, backdated to April 1, after a UVW campaign.

SGUL and Bidvest Noonan were both contacted for comment.

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