MPs join strikes at the University of London as campaign for better pay and conditions for outsourced workers continues


Around 50 workers and supporters took to the picket lines at the University of London today, armed with music, whistles, flags and placards as part of an ongoing campaign to win better pay and conditions for the university’s outsourced workers.

The campaign, known as "3 Cosas" (three things in Spanish), has been putting pressure on the University of London for over a year, aiming to “ensure equality of terms and conditions between the University of London’s direct employees, and its outsourced workers”.

The crowd had congregated on the second day of a three-day strike, ready to ride an open-top bus so they could protest at strategic locations around the capital, including Westminster, and the headquarters of Cofely GDF-Suez, the company which employs many of the outsourced workers.

The strike was called by the University of London branch of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB), which is demanding negotiations on any impending job losses which may result from the proposed closure and redevelopment of Garden Halls, an intercollegiate halls of residence currently housing around 958 students, and where many of Cofely GDF-Suez’s employees work.

Upon reaching Westminster, the picketing group was greeted by John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, who addressed them outside the Houses of Parliament.

“Everyone should have decent wages and conditions," he said. ‘You have my support – we won’t stop till we’ve won.”

He was joined by Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh, and Jeremy Corbyn, MP for Islington North, who both expressed solidarity with the campaign.

A spokesperson for 3 Cosas highlighted the importance of the “conviction, passion, and inspiration of the heart” which has secured its progress so far. A two-day strike in late November 2013 won major concessions on sick pay and holidays.

The campaign has also received significant support from UoL students, largely as a result of raised awareness and coverage on social media.

Daniel Cooper, Vice-President of the University of London Union which represents over 120,000 students at UoL, said that “the 3 Cosas Campaign is a model of what workers can achieve when they organise. This campaign has the full support of the student body.”

A spokesperson for the University of London said that the strike itself had had “minimal impact”.

He said: “We are happy that the protest has been peaceful so far, and we’re always keen to hear from voices other than ourselves”.

The final day of the strike is tomorrow.