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University staff make trade union history as UCL employees and outsourced workers strike together

UNIVERSITY staff made trade-union history today when directly employed academics and privatised support workers took strike action together with joint picket lines.

University College London (UCL) is in dispute with academic staff who are members of the University and College Union (UCU), and with outsourced cleaners, porters and security officers, who are members of the Industrial Workers of Great Britain (IWGB) union.

The jobs of more than 300 ancillary staff have been transferred to profiteering privateers Sodexo and Axis, which have attacked wages, sick pay, holidays and working conditions.

The workers responded with strike action in November.

Members of academics’ union UCU are in dispute over pensions, pay and the university’s failure to tackle inequality, casualisation of jobs and increasing workloads.

The further- and higher-education sector is the worst in Britain for using exploitative zero-hours contracts and insecure jobs.

IWGB university of London branch chairwoman Maritza Castillo Calle said: “There is a near consensus at UCL that outsourcing has to end and that all workers should be put on equal terms and conditions, but management continues to drag its feet.

"These joint strikes will send a clear message of unity, with all those that keep the university running on the same side of the picket line.

"It’s not too late for management to get on the right side of history and agree to our demands and those of the directly employed staff.”

UCU branch vice-president at UCL Dr Saladin Meckled-Garcia said: “Our action represents a wholesale resistance to the turning of universities into businesses and commercial concerns, rather than communities of learning and scholarship.

"We see the struggle of IWGB outsourced workers as continuous with this resistance and that is why we are proud to be on strike with them. All out!"

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